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Friday, December 17, 2021

Updated: Feb 22, 2022

Friday, December 17

How lucky we were to get home yesterday. We were the only plane to leave Florence and maybe the only plane to leave Italy. Our transatlantic flight on Swiss Air was fine but does not compare, in my view, to Lufthansa.

I was up about 22 hours so dragging some. Found our house a mess with no hot water in our bedroom area, no electricity, and the house dirty. While we were away, new air conditioning was installed, and FPL had to change all our electrical to bring it up to code. All our outside lights are off, and it was not fun

Fortunately, we have a very good and devoted man who is much more than a handyman, but you get the idea. I have done him some favors over the years such as advancing the money he needed when all his tools were stolen, and he reciprocates. I called him about 9 pm. He got dressed and fixed everything but the outdoor lights. I do give him a holiday check, but he refused additional payment because he is still working off the last advance I gave him.

One side note with some irony. I panicked when I could not find the TV clicker in our bedroom. Remember, for nine weeks, we never even thought about turning one on. Anyway, Fernando really saved us, including finding the clicker


In the “honesty is sometimes the best category” department, when in Italy, I bought Barbara a gift of two pairs of earrings. According to the rules I read online, I owed a significant amount of duty if I declared them. I decided to declare and pay the money because I just did not want to take any risk. I have conducted my entire life trying to do what was right, and, at 82, the last thing I needed was any kind of black mark on my name.

There is no more form to fill out, but when we went through customs, I was asked what I had to declare, and I told the man a number far in excess of the amount allowed. He said “thank you, someone might want to look at them.” No one did and I paid nothing.

Barbara thinks this story I told the man helped: For my 35th birthday, I wanted a Diamond Patek Evening watch. We looked all over Europe and finally we went to the factory in Geneva. For some reason, Patek liked us and made Barbara a really great deal but it still took all the money she had. She told me I would have to pay the duty on the watch, which even over 40 years ago was a lot of money.

On that trip, we flew through Washington D.C., so that is where we went through customs. I declared every nickel the watch cost. The customs inspector said he wanted to see the watch. I said something like “do you think I am not being totally honest with you?” He replied, in substance, “almost no one would do what you did and besides I want to see a watch that costs that much”.

He then took out a huge manual and started going through it, saying “this is exempt,” this does not count”, these diamonds are small” etc etc. after about 15 minutes of study, he looked up and said “Mr. Miller, I thank you for your honesty, there will be no duty”.


Have lots to do and an party office party later today. I will get back to more substantive matters in due course. I have looked at our personal mail, mostly holiday greeting cards and want to single out Barbara’s cousin Carol. She wrote a very nice personal note and an excellent two -page typewritten summary of what is going on with her and part of Barbara’s Minnesota family, Thank you.

Thursday, December 16

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