Sunday, 19 Feb 1984
Dear Mom & Dad,
I still haven't received a response from you about me picking you up in Rome. Perhaps you should call us just before you leave. I will probably get a letter from you the day I mail this. If so, I will write another letter. Otherwise, this may be the last letter you get from us before you leave for Europe.
It has been taking 10 days for your letters to get here for the past couple of months. This seems strange since we are still getting mail from Little Rock in 5 days.
The past week and a half here have been the coldest weather we have had this winter. It has been in the low 30's every morning. Several days have been very windy on top of that. I know, compared with your weather, you'll think that's not bad. However, here we live closer to the weather. These uninsulated, stone houses are terribly cold in this weather. It has been 50ºF in the house several mornings recently. February is usually warmer here than December and January.
This cold spell has really caused an outbreak of colds and flu. We saw nearly 300 patients at Pinetamare last week. (Six months ago, the clinic had about that many patients per month.) We've all had colds. Steven even had vomiting Friday night and diarrhea yesterday.
I have a 3-day weekend right now. We thought about going somewhere, but decided it was too cold. It is just as well since Steven got sick. We are going to try to go to Sorrento, then down the Amalfi Coast tomorrow (if everyone is well enough). Steven and Jeannie stayed home from church this morning.
Right now I am sitting out in the sun on the front porch. It is 48ºF and compared with the past several days this is pleasant. There are lots of tiny wildflowers blooming in the yard and some of our iris and geraniums are blooming. So, there is hope for warmer days. Here we have all these flowers and it is only mid-February. In a few more months we will be complaining about how hot it is. HA. We still have lots of lemons on the trees.
Yesterday we went to the shoe store. Jeannie bought a pair of shoes for just under $10 that would cost $50 in the States. We also went to the crystal factory and bought some pretty things real cheap.
Jeannie recently had a dress tailor-made that cost about $90. It is pink and is silk and linen knit. It is pretty but I'm not sure it was worth so much money.
We got our first electric bill last week. It was only an estimated reading for 150 KWH. Actually, we need to pay for 5000 KWH. I think it will cost about $1200 for the next bill. We still haven't gotten a phone bill yet.
We had 1000 liters of heating oil delivered the other day for $330.
Since I got my electric bill, I know what my Italian address is now.
Michael S. Cole, M.D.
If you are interested in making any tapes for us, may I suggest some Saturday morning cartoons for hte kids? They especially like the following: Shirt Tales, Smurfs, PacMan, Charlie Brown, Bugs Bunny, and Strawberry Shortcake. Tape them on extra long play (i.e., 6 hours on a T-120). It is not as easy as just pushing a button. Be careful that you don't lose the beginning or end of a show. Don't try to take out the commercials. The kids like them, too. You will probably want to wait until April to start making a tape. One tape every other month will be plenty. We will gladly pay for the tape and postage. I suggest you tape some late night movies for yourself to watch the next day. This will help you learn how to make good tapes. (Be sure your tracking is set in the center.)
Oh, there will be local people who get on the European trains to sell food. They are in no way associated with the railroad. You probably won't want to buy food from them (unless it is a banana). There will also be food sold on the train by the train.
You do know, I hope, that there are several different types of trains. When traveling between big cities, you want only to take the fastest trains, not one that stops at every little station. (In Italy, this train is called the Rapido.) (TEE is another type train that would be ok.)
Jeannie says don't let the crowds push you around. Act like the natives. If they don't stand in line, don't feel like you have to either. They have a different system for politeness. Don't worry about looking dumb. In Italy the word "permesso" is used to say "may I get by."
Jeannie and I went out to eat supper on Valentine's Day. The restaurant was freezing, but the food was good.
By the way, the cheapest blank videocassettes are practically as good as the expensive ones, so always buy the cheapest ones.
There will be a lot of painters painting around Florence. You will enjoy watching them paint since you've been taking lessons.
Monday night, 20 Feb 84
Well, we didn't go anywhere today.
I had vomiting & diarrhea last night. Within a few hours Jeannie was sick, too. So, we've been in bed most of the day. I guess it will be Angelique's turn next.
What a waste of a 3-day weekend!
It's been raining a lot today. The electricity was off half the afternoon.
We are excited about your coming. It will be fun to see you & show you around. I hope you'll let me pick you up in Rome. Perhaps your next letter will let me know.
I will mail this tomorrow, then probably get a letter from you later in the day. If I do, I will write again real fast.
Let us know where you are going to be and when.
Hurry and come.
Love you lots,
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