7 Oct 83
Dear Diane & Family,
The past couple of weeks have certainly been unusual. I was a little under the weather about three weeks ago - nothing serious - just weak & achy. Then Michael picked it up. We thought he would be over it in three or four days like I was. But his developed into bronchitis. That lasted for over two weeks. Even with his terrible cough and aches and pains, he went to work. Well, this past Sunday night he went in to assist on a C-section about 1:00 AM. After they delivered the baby and were sewing the mother up, Michael announced that he had to sit down before he fainted. They sat him down and soon after helped him out of the operating room and stripped his gown off of him and found him a bed. A little later he felt better and drove home. The next morning they took a chest xray and started him on some antibiotics.
This was Steven's birthday. He (Michael) got home about 6:00 PM and we ate a quick supper because friends were coming over at 7:00 for cake and ice cream. After supper Steven opened his presents. He's enjoying the books you sent. I love the little rain coat. It hasn't rained yet this week, but it should soon 'cause their Falls are quite wet here. Angelique was oohing and ahhing over the shirt and puppy dog buttons. They do look very nice with the jumper. Yes, your package got here in plenty of time. We got Steven a big Tonka truck, talking Big Bird, puzzle and a work bench with tools and a book. Angelique got him a toy lunch box. Our neighbors came at 7:00 and brought him a few more gifts. Then we ate cake & ice cream. Steven had a Mickey Mouse cake. He so enjoyed blowing out his candles. He still wants to put candles on the left-over cake and blow them out. He had a ball with his new toys, cake and all the attention. But, alas, even two-year-old birthdays have to come to an end.
I was looking forward to a normal Tuesday. About 9:30 AM Michael showed up. They ordered him to come home and go to bed - he has pneumonia! Can you believe it? Actually, I nearly stood up and cheered. I knew he needed to be in bed two weeks ago. Navy policy is two sick days then either go back to work or be admitted to the hospital. Michael tried to go back to work Thursday. They took a new Xray and sent him right back home. He's in bed now. I don't think it is too serious. He's eating well. He watches Sesame Street or cartoons with the kids some, too. Mostly he just sleeps. He hates it. He wants to be at the hospital seeing his patients. He can't stand the thought of this other doctor seeing his patients. I'm supposed to take him in tomorrow (Saturday) for another check up - if I can get him there, that is. That brings up another whole subject.
Tuesday morning before they sent Michael home there was an earthquake of substantial strength. It registered 6 point something on the Italian scale. That's about 5 on our scale, I think. Fortunately it only lasted about 10 seconds. If it has lasted longer, it would have done quite a bit of damage. (There was a major earthquake here in 1980, that was no stronger than this one the other day, that did a lot of damage and destroyed an old section of town south of Naples. It lasted three or four minutes, though.) Michael was with a patient making rounds. He said it was hard not to panic. The Italians go wild and scream and run out into the streets. They are very dramatic people. Anyway, they had to close one of the stairwells at the hospital after that quake Tuesday morning and the elevators were inoperable. Quite a bit of glass was broken, too. This morning, Friday, some friends brought us the news that the Tangenziale (the toll road we take into the Base) was closed because another quake early this morning created a big hole in the middle of it. We'll have to find the back roads into town tomorrow if it's still closed. Rumors run wild and quickly over here. You don't believe everything you hear the first time. Without telephones, communications are passed on by word of mouth and sometimes the stories get wilder and wilder as they go. There is an American radio station here run by the Naval Base, but they try to play things down and only casually mention significant problems such as the Tangenziale being closed due to another quake. Anyway, don't worry. There are tremors and quakes daily close to the Naval base, but we haven't felt even one of them here at our house. We're about 15 miles north of the base. I suppose if there were a really big one we would feel it, but it shouldn't do any damage to our house. I am kind of concerned about Michael being at the hospital during a major quake, but as long as he's home with pneumonia he should be safe enough. (Should I consider that a blessing?) He's due to go back to work Tuesday if he's able.
We have received both sets of tapes now. Don't bother with labeling the tapes - we'll do that so we can put starting positions, etc., on the label. Just send the blank labels with a note as to what is on each tape. Do you know what great service you are doing for your country by supplying military personnel with video tapes? We truly appreciate your time and effort. Your last letter and tapes got here four days after you mailed them. That must be some kind of record. The kids really enjoy the tapes. Dr. Seuss is already a favorite. Do you know why the movie "Sea Wolves" had several bad places in it? The next movie on that tape, "S.O.S. Titanic," was just fine. Does HBO send out interference occasionally to discourage taping? Possibly it was power slumps at either your end or ours. We've never had any other tapes to do like that one though. Still, we enjoyed it. It helps the ol' morale. We've recently borrowed the "Thronbirds" and "Shogun" miniseries from friends. Is it too late to get "Little Miss Marker" on tape?
Have I told you about Maria from Capri? Maria comes once a month to take orders for her knit dresses, sweaters, suits, etc. They are beautiful! She has the most gorgeous knits and does excellent work. These dresses are comparable to the $300 to $500 dresses or suits in the States. I went last month for the 1st time and ordered a medium blue polyester and silk knit dress for only £90,000. That's about $60.00! She measures you when she takes your order and custom makes them to fit just you. I've also been told you can take in pictures from magazines and have her make it up for you. She had several books and magazines to choose from. I should get my dress 14 October. I hope it is as pretty as everyone else's who was picking theirs up that day. She's "all the rage" with all the officers' wives here. Come on over and we'll order you one. It will be hard not to order one every month. She also does wool knits.
Are you coming? Listen, we'll plan itineraries or sit back and watch you or whatever you want! We just want you! What airline will Bill get his trip to London on? I believe TWA has or had a non-stop flight from St. Louis to Rome at a very reasonable price. You know to go through travel agents in planning your European vacation, don't you? If you want to see a lot of Europe, you might try a Eurail pass (railroad). That's what Michael's parents are doing in March. If you just want to stay around here, we'll give you room and board plus several guided tours if you want. Rome is close enough to drive to from here maybe one or two days or whatever. June is probably the best month of all. May is great, but a little cool for swimming. July is nice, but hot and there are no air conditioners. August is absolutely the worst month of all. Ninety percent of the Italians take their vacations in August. Almost everything is closed - even museums and every Italian is on the road with his camper or car packed as tight as possible. Italians literally live on the beach in August. Needless to say, Americans stay home and off the roads. I would say plan to stay at least 2 weeks. You'll have a few days of jet lag where you won't feel like doing much at all. Three or 4 weeks would be better - see more and have more time to relax. Some relatives come and spend one to two months- Relatives from the States are quite a common thing here, so you wouldn't feel too strange and left out. Come and spend all summer if you want. We'll find plenty to do.
We are tentatively planning a trip through France, Holland (to see Susan Krumrei) and Germany in April or early May. But that can be changed (so we'll be home when you come) if need be. I'd like to see the tulips in Holland.
Mother says Daddy is getting cold feet about coming. Maybe he needs some encouragement from his eldest daughter.
The sooner you set approximate dates for your trip (or month) the easier it will be. Then I could plan swimming classes around that time and get a better idea of what there is to do at that particular time. You are planning on coming this summer aren't you?
I can't believe we've been here over 5 months already. There's so much else to see and learn. I started a water color class Monday. We only have 8 two-hour classes. I don't think that will be enough time for me to master water colors. I must be out of my head for trying it.
Angelique thoroughly enjoys school - especially art and music class. She's getting so big. Steven has grown an inch in three months. He talks a steady stream if Angelique isn't. Fortunately, they play and talk together a lot.
Tell Laura her school is "building her character" by working her so hard. She'd think public school was a breeze, wouldn't she. She'd be so bored. How's your school year? Are they building your character? Is Bill enjoying tripping all over the country? Write when you get a chance.
P.S. Friday Nite - Michael feels worse now because the medicine is upsetting his stomach. Taco salad for supper didn't help much either.
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