Friday, 15 Feb 1985

Dear Mom and Dad,

I got a letter from you the other day. I really didn't know that my father could write. I appreciate hearing from both of you. It makes it feel like I am writing to BOTH of you when you both write.

I got a letter from Grandma today. I am sending her a letter tomorrow before the rates go up.

Would you tell me exactly what day Aunt Velva died? I cannot find it anywhere.

The exchange rate here has really changed a lot lately. We can now get over 2000 lire for a dollar. We were paying over $500 rent when we got here. Now it is around $350. We cannot complain. I do realize that it is playing havoc to the European countries that the American currency is so much stronger than theirs. Our dollar sure buys a lot more on the economy than it used to. It suits us fine.

The kids enjoyed the cards that you sent and they always enjoy the balloons. They had a fun Valentine's Day.

Is it still snowing there?

It had gotten quite pleasant here until Tuesday when it got into the lower 30's again. It has since warmed back up though. It seems about 10 degrees warmer outside today than it is in the house.

Jeannie has probably frozen on her trip this week. The news showed that it was even colder in northern Italy. I hope she isn't spending all my money. There were 37 women that went on the bus trip. Last year, on this trip, they spent a total of $16,000 while shopping. When they came back the bus was so packed there was hardly any room to sit.

Did I tell you that we can just barely pick up the American T.V. station here? When we first started getting it, they had the ABC News on at 6 p.m. I thought it was just great until I watched it and found that it was two weeks old. What good is two week old news, anyway? Well, now they have their satellite dish working. We now get the Today Show live at 4 p.m. Also, there is live news from the States from CNN a few times a day. It has certainly helped us not to feel so far away from America any more. Our picture is still too snowy though. Angelique watched Sesame Street this afternoon.

I am feeling fine. I wish I wouldn't get pneumonia. I am sure that it is because we live in this cold house. I wouldn't complain if I never get it again.

If they rounded up every one of the Mafia and killed them all, it wouldn't take long until the problem was the same all over again. There are lots of people who would just take the place of a criminal here at the drop of a hat. You go where the money is. Catholicism has probably encouraged that attitude. A religion, that says you can do anything you want in this life and still go to heaven if you are "Catholic," is very popular.

I didn't think about Becky's birthday until it was too late to send her a letter.

I have a computer program now that will print greeting cards, signs, banners, and letterheads. My computer and I will have to design Becky a card. The program didn't have a tree that it would print, but it lets you draw anything you want and save it. Yesterday, I drew a tree that came out pretty good I thought. I drew it a dot at a time. It filled up most of the screen when I drew it. The computer shrinks it. I wanted a tree to put on my family tree charts. I really didn't think I could draw anything that could be recognized. I would draw awhile and erase awhile until I got it like I wanted. It took about 2 hours. I did it while the kids took their naps. I am sure that someone with artistic talent could have done it much faster. What I really need is a Koala pen that lets me write right on the monitor screen.

Paestum is an ancient city that wasn't discovered until World War II when the Americans were building an air strip. It is about an hour's drive from here. It contains the third best preserved Greek temple in the world. It is a lot like Pompeii, except only the foundations of most of the buildings remain. There are lots of foot high walls left of the houses. It is south of Sorrento, near the coast. We have only been there once, but want to go back.

Steven and the rest of us would love to have you here on his birthday.

I have not seen the Reader's Digest article that you mentioned. Military medicine is a big political topic right now. If everywhere is like this place, we are doing the best job we can with the building, equipment, money, etc., that we have. The doctors are well trained and do a super job with what we've got. If they want to improve the quality, they should put their money where their mouths are and stop blaming all the problems on the military doctors. Until they put more money into the medical care system, they will continue to have the same problems. The more they accuse the medical personnel of not being well trained or caring people, the worse my attitude gets.

If you take our budget and divide it by the number of patients, we have less than five dollars to spend on each patient we see! Next time you see the doctor in the States, tell him you are only going to pay him $5, because that is all the government thinks the patient is worth. People would find out that the "quality" of their health care would decrease if less money is available to be spent on the system. You get what you pay for!

Yes, we heard about the bombing in Athens. We were glad we aren't stationed there. I am surprised there hasn't been any type of terrorist attack here yet. Too many people are getting mad at NATO and especially at America.

If Becky had asked for it, I would have put some shots of the kids on the end of the videotapes that I sent her. She only asked for cartoons and that is all I sent.

We were quite surprised that most of the Italians did slow down on the slick roads. However, it was obvious that they didn't know how to drive on ice and snow. We stayed off the road all we could then. We wondered how the gypsies stayed warm in their trailers.

Jeannie said you wouldn't be able to figure out who was who on that ancestor chart. I thought you would figure it out after looking at it for awhile. Notice the numbers before each name. Multiply the number by two and you can find the person's father. Add 1 and that is the mother. I have more names of your ancestors, but my computer cannot print out any more at a time in that format than it did. It has to do with the computer creating the whole chart in memory before it prints any of it.

I have to go start supper. I will finish this later.

Well, I have the kids in bed now.

Jeannie left Monday morning for Venice, their first stop. That should have been a long trip. She was gone before the kids got up. She will be back tomorrow night after the kids are in bed. This trip is a day longer than the one in December. The kids have done much better this time. They have not cried any about her not being here. Steven is much more accepting of her being gone this time. He knows for sure she will be back this time. I have even found this trip to be less trouble than the last. However, this will be the last trip that she goes without us.

If I can talk Jeannie into leaving the kids with the Sigles, we may go to the Holy Land this year. I would really like to go, but it is not a good place to take little ones. I will not go alone or with the kids. The decision to go or not will be up to Jeannie. Faye has already said she would be happy to keep Angelique and Steven.

I took the kids to school early three days this week, then picked them up about 2 p.m. Monday afternoon we all went to the base and got Jeannie's car to drive a few days. I put my car in the shop to have it tuned up. They had told me to bring it back in about 1000 km after the motor was overhauled for a free tune up. It was closer to 1000 miles, but I waited till Jeannie was gone when it would be easiest.

I bought 4 new Goodyear radial tires on the base Monday afternoon for $37 a piece. Jeannie was convinced that she had to have new tires. Everyone said that was the best place to get them. They don't put them on there, so I took them to AFSOUTH the next morning. Since I didn't work that day till 2, I took Steven with me instead of leaving him at school. He thought it was fun to watch them balancing and mounting the tires. It took almost an hour, but only cost about $10. We then took the car to one of the car washes, and afterward ate lunch on the base. Before we left, I got my car out of the shop and left it parked on the base. I then took Steven to Faye's. Angelique rode home from school with Faye. The kids stayed there till I got off work that night at 8. On Monday night I put them to bed at 7:30 and both fell quickly to sleep. Angelique didn't take a nap that afternoon and Steven only had time for a short one.

Wednesday after school both kids went to Faye's for lunch and spent the night there because I was on call. I went over from 4:30 till 6 and took the kids their pajamas, toothbrushes, and change of clothes. I did not get called to the hospital as I normally do when I am on call, but I couldn't have let the kids spend the night here and take a chance.

Yesterday I got off at noon and picked the kids up from school. Steven was really tired. Both kids took long naps.

At 5:30 last night I dropped the kids off at Faye's and picked up her two kids. We went to the base and changed cars. Now Jeannie's car is where she can find it when she gets back tomorrow. Then we went to AFSOUTH where we met John and went to "Star Trek III." I took them all home. Faye had the kids in their pajamas when we got there. They had even already brushed their teeth. When I got them home all I had to do was tuck them in. They got to bed a little before 9. Jeannie was quite disgusted that this movie was to be on while she was gone. We couldn't believe that John would go out on Valentine's Day without Faye.

Steven slept 3 hours this afternoon. Angelique didn't sleep at all today. All of us are a little more tired without Jeannie's help here. We have been keeping really busy to keep from missing her so much, I think.

Jeannie is supposed to be in Florence tonight.

I will go in to the base tomorrow and mail this. I also need to get some of the new stamps if our post office has them yet. The rates go up Sunday. We will probably get lunch there, too. If they haven't sold out, we will get a Care Bear sandbox that Jeannie tried to get me to get last Saturday, but I said it wouldn't fit in the car. I have the luggage rack on top of my car right now.

I have run out of anything to tell you about. I hope the snow is gone or melting. Keep warm. We love you lots. We are looking forward to your coming in September.


Michael, Jeannie,
Angelique & Steven

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