Monday, 11 Mar 1985

Dear Mom and Dad,

I finally got a letter from you today. I thought you had forgotten how to write. I was just waiting for you to write before I wrote. Now you are wondering why I haven't written. Your letter was written 25 Feb. I am surprised it took so long to get here.

Thank you so much for all the things you sent. I especially enjoyed reading the letters about Van Deven. The kids always enjoy balloons.

I am going to place part of Jeannie's letter to Diane about her trip to Venice, etc., here:
[Edited out for this page, since it is available in previous post.]

My, aren't computers wonderful? That was sure an easy way to tell you about her trip. Yes, I did ask Jeannie first.

Are all the students at Harrison High School pleased that they closed the cafeteria? I certainly enjoyed eating there. You couldn't beat the price anywhere. And there was a lot better variety of food than any of the fast food places around the high school.

The article from Readers' Digest about military medicine was terribly slanted. While most everything they said was true, they did not present the information in a fair method. No health care system is perfect. The very same problems exist in civilian medicine. Our biggest problem is not good doctors and nurses, but the money spent. I found out the exact amount we have allotted to spend per patient we see at Pinetamare. It is only $3.20!

Where did you get the page from the directory about churches in Europe? The address for Naples is wrong.

I like the Popeye comic. I may get it framed for my office.

The weather is getting much warmer. I am not sure how we survived for a week without heating oil. We ordered it a month before it was delivered. It was not our fault or the base's. They kept trying to deliver it sooner. I was sick with pneumonia the first time they called work and I never got the message. Then they kept trying to deliver it while Jeannie was gone. Someone has to be home when it comes.

Today, it has been raining a lot. It was a really pretty weekend with sunshine and temperatures in the 60's. We have had the house open several days recently.

There is no way to tell you when to call here. (The phone service here will never be as advanced as the States.) I work from 8 AM to 2 PM one week, and then 2 PM to 8 PM the next week. There are occasional exceptions even to that. I almost always work the evening shift on Tuesdays and the mornings on Wednesdays. I have to stay downstairs with my computer on Tuesday mornings while Jeannie has Ladies' Bible Class.

A couple weeks ago I had to go to downtown Naples. That took a whole morning. I had to go to the electric company to get back most of the money they had overcharged us. I finally got fed up with all the bills that were 3x the right amount. Unfortunately, you have to go to the downtown office to straighten it up. Actually, I don't think it is completely straight yet, but it is closer. I do not look forward to going there again. In the States it is so simple to just pick up the phone and get things straightened out in a few minutes. Also, if the electric company would read the meters occasionally, it would help.

I got the book Frontier more than a week ago. I very much enjoyed reading it. John Sigle has it right now. I was SHOCKED at the price! It is a good book, but I am not certain it is worth so much. I hope I remember to enclose a check for it in this letter. Daddy would enjoy the book even more than I did. It has a lot about the western part of the country. I very much appreciate your getting it and sending it to me. How did you get a copy of the book without seeing a copy of the book? The pictures in the book are similar to those from National Geographic.

We are certainly enjoying National Geographic. The first issue had an article I used for my Evolution class.

I have finished the "science" classes and we are starting on Genesis 1 next Sunday. I will enjoy that better, I think. I was not comfortable with so little "Bible" in Sunday School for 2 1/2 months. No, we had no visitors from the ad. It only ran two weeks, but the usual ad was changed to show the topic we are currently studying. Everyone seemed to enjoy the classes very much and even Jeannie learned a little.

I am not at all disappointed about the book about dinosaurs for the kids. I so much appreciate you looking so hard for it. It is not clear in your letter whether you already paid for it or if I am to pay Joan for it. We look forward to it coming.

I quickly figured out that I had pneumonia this time. I well remember the feeling. I hope that this will not be an annual occurrence after we get back to the States and into a warmer house. Probably in the past it was common to get pneumonia every year.

I am glad you did not buy the "Fast Load Cartridge." I can get it on base now for $24. I better get it before they run out. I was waiting to hear from you before getting it. I can't believe they told you it would cost $40! As I said, they are trying to steal your money.

We did not get to "see" the Sharpes' furniture. We left it wrapped up. I think it is too tall for a standard ceiling in the States. When they came to pack it out, it took 6 Italians: two to do the work and four to watch. It took them 45 minutes, and they didn't even have to wrap the pieces. They were obviously not in any hurry. (That is similar to how they buried cable -- lots of "supervising.")

PLEASE DO NOT get your dollars exchanged into European currency. The rates will just continue to get better. And even if they don't, it isn't worth the risk to invest in foreign currency. You could lose hundreds of dollars. I have seen too many people here buy lire like crazy when they thought it had reached the highest it was going. But, it just keeps getting better. The Italian money will never gain strength against the dollar as long as Reagan is President. And any country that takes a whole month off (i.e., August) cannot expect their economy to be real strong.

The same flu was going around here, but has just about infected everyone now. I am glad to see it ending. It really kept us busy at the clinic last month. For some reason, we never seemed to get it or else we all had very mild cases of it. Perhaps, that is what started my pneumonia.

We got an H-2 antenna recently. It made the American station much more watchable. But they don't have much on worth watching, anyway. Our picture comes in fairly clearly now. They have expanded the hours of the station so it comes on about 6 AM and stays on till about 1 AM. We now can see the news live from the States several times a day.

Not all artistic talent has to be expressed in painting or drawing. I can find lots of ways to be creative, including using my computer. Angelique certainly thinks she is artistically inclined. She is constantly drawing pictures. Nearly all of them have writing on them, too, like "To Mom and Dad."

We did get the Care Bear sandbox. The kids went with me to the beach at Pinetamare to get some sand. They really enjoy it. Angelique was already banned from it for a week for not keeping the sand in the sandbox. She had filled the little red wagon full of it and spilled too much of it when she tried to replace it. The sandbox is in the garage for the time being, but will go outside when it gets a little warmer.

We recently got the front disc brakes fixed on Jeannie's car, then later put a new muffler on it. I think I have finally found a mechanic I can trust within walking distance of the clinic.

Did I tell you I have a computer program that does practically all the work in preparing my federal income tax? It almost made it fun to do. We will have to pay about $300 in state and federal taxes. I don't have enough deductions.

There was a really bad accident in front of the house last week. Ann Cummings was riding with a friend and was hit pulling out onto the street. The driver is still in the hospital. Ann is terribly sore still, but did not have to be admitted. The ambulance from Pinetamare came.

I worked six straight nights at the hospital a couple of weeks ago. I didn't have to work at the clinic for that week. That got old in a hurry. The doctors all had to do a week at a time. But they all decided that one night at a time was better. I was the last to do my turn.

We got a frantic letter from Diane last week with lots of questions about her upcoming trip to Europe. Her travel agent told them that it would cost a little over $1000 to fly from Rome to London. They can fly from Naples for about a third of that.

I have said everything I can think of that is worth telling about. I am sorry it has been so long since you heard from me. I was just waiting for a letter from you. I guess we can blame the post office.

Lots of Love,

Michael, Jeannie,
Angelique, and Steven

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