I was recently confronted with a very Russian problem. Winter has announced itself in St. Petersburg, with thermometers plummeting to unspeakable sub-zero (celsius…for now) temperatures. Imagine very dirty, uneven ice skating rinks that you would never let your kids near, and that’s probably an accurate image of the sidewalks. I’m still getting down how to walk as if there isn’t a few inches of dirty, uneven ice on the sidewalk, like the Peterites (Petery? Petersburgians?), perhaps slipping a little bit here and there but generally unaffected by the trouble afoot. So far I’ve been outstripped by babushkas with canes and wheely trolleys full of groceries.
Something to work up to.
A more insidious problem was presented by my windows, which are large, old, and pretty much useless when it comes to keeping out the vicious winter draft.
Irina, Patron Saint of Lost Souls in Russia, advised me to go to the hardware store and buy special window tape and vada, which translates to “wadding”. I guess we’d call it “insulation,” but it’s not really insulation, just this foamy tape stuff that’s supposed to seal up the cracks. Though don’t ask me, I’m useless when it comes to home repairs beyond changing a light bulb.
I never thought I’d have to go into a hardware store and ask for “wadding” in any language, but isn’t that the essence of what living abroad is about? Going into a hardware store and asking six different people,”Do you have wadding for windows?”
And then going home, climbing up on your window sill, and enduring a chilling draft to wad and tape your windows?
Inelegant as it may be, it has definitely helped, although I ran out of vada before I was done. So I guess they’ll be seeing me again at Masterovoy, demanding more wadding.
I’m still getting dressed in the bathroom because it’s the warmest room in the house. But as they say in Russia, you can’t spend all winter in the bathroom*. At some point you have to put on your wool socks, and your boots, and your sweater, and your big scarf, and your hat, and your parka, with hood, and your gloves, and leave the house. And try not to bust your ass on the way to the metro.
In other news, I made a pound cake. Well, it’s baking right now, and if it will in any way resemble a pound cake when it’s out of the oven is highly dubious. Nothing like making a pound cake without a standing mixer to make you appreciate a standing mixer… I think I used half of our kitchen utensils trying to adequately cream the butter. And gave the remont that’s happening upstairs—this horrible renovation project– a run for their money, with all the knocking I was making mixing this m’f’er up on the kitchen table.
I’m hoping I didn’t completely waste several hundred rubles worth of ingredients… but in any case, the oven is a good source of heat.
*They don’t actually say this in Russia.