Thankful for Small Things

Blogging from the States is different than blogging from overseas. I’m not going to have any spectacular Italian vacations to write about for the near future! And there is far less that is new to me, of course. I’ve lived in the DC area for many years, off and on, ever since college. It is, more or less, my home.

So, here’s to less “Wow!” and more silent appreciation for the many conveniences and pleasures of American life. (For now!)

Some small some things that I am thankful for lately (in addition to the aforementioned kitchen full of American appliances):

This lovely washer and dryer. They are nothing special brand-wise, but they are BIG and they vent to the outside. It took me a week to stop automatically reaching for that silly water tank to empty out after every load. And at least that long to stop thinking that I needed to go ahead and do the laundry right away because there were three pairs of jeans in the hamper and that was the biggest load that my washer could accommodate in Vienna.

We are not worthy!
We are not worthy!

This quilt, which I can now put on my bed because I have a washer big enough to wash it. After one experience taking two blankets to the cleaners in Vienna and paying about $150 for the privilege, I asked a friend who was lucky enough to have a real washer and dryer to clean my quilt and then packed it away for the rest of the tour.

The quilt is really not that special, but I just prefer to sleep under a quilt, not a duvet. So, this makes me happy. (It’s also much better for allergies.)

This spells cozy to me.
This spells cozy to me.

This grocery store, which is open at every possible hour during which I might need or want to buy groceries, including Sundays. The cashiers are really nice and bag my groceries for me. (It’s cheap, too!)


This gym, with tons of equipment, lots of other women lifting weights, air conditioning that they actually turn on, and look! Ceiling fans! (For the record, I have yet to see anyone drop dead of pneumonia in this gym as a result of air movement.)

This gym does not smell, even a little bit.
Nice, cool gym that isn’t smelly.

Lots of different kinds of food. Everywhere. Cheap (by comparison to Vienna) and so, so good. We were out walking yesterday, decided to stop for lunch, and in one block had a choice of Thai, Indian, Ethiopian, American bar food, Italian, and Mexican. We went for the Thai, since we’d had Ethiopian the night before.

Thai green curry, yum!
Thai green curry, yum!

The ability to communicate. In our six overseas tours I have only achieved fluency in just one language: Spanish. That’s a pretty darn useful language to have, since I can always use it here in the States. But I never got anywhere near that level in German. Sure, I could read menus and signs, and I could accomplish basic tasks like asking for directions. But basically, I lived my life in an English-language bubble, dependent on my husband to do even the stupidest things like make phone calls. I couldn’t even figure out the voice mail on my mobile phone. So, if you called my voice mail while I was in Vienna, sorry. I never got your message!

This cluelessness may be a necessary evil when living in foreign countries, but it doesn’t mean I like it. I love being able to just pick up the phone or walk into a store and ask a question here, without prefacing it with a humble, “sprechen Sie Englisch?” The Austrians were always very nice about this, but I am a grown woman for heaven’s sake. It’s no wonder that I like being able to function like one.

And finally, on a related note, libraries. Look at this. They are English-language books on paper that I didn’t have to pay for. Aren’t they beautiful? 🙂

This is what a bedside table should look like.


  1. Being from the states I find as many interesting and “odd” things to take photos of. The things I like about the stateside photos is that no matter how strange there is a sense of familiarity about them that is comforting. Also, some things that seem normal to us in the states are so peculiar to people from other countries. Blog on..


  2. What is it about Europeans and ‘drafts’? On a road trip through the desert in Namibia (in a no AC vehicle) the Germans still insisted on keeping every window closed. Their explanation? ‘But the wind is in our faces!’ Yep guys, that’s the whole point.


    • The Austrians are just terrified of any kind of air movement. It can be absolutely stifling in a bus or tram with no a/c and if you open a window people will glare at you or tell you to shut it again. It gives you some insight into why so many Europeans drop dead in major heat waves!


  3. ahhhh…the dreaded draft! My two years in Sarajevo were spent fighting with cabbies/maids/local employees/every non-American I knew about how open windows don’t automatically lead to death…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.