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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Winter Wear, Kay style

Since you're about to be deluged with photos of the wonders of Helsinki in winter--this is what happens when I finally figure out how to use the camera on my Nokia cellphone--I figured I'd start these entries with something a little more basic:

Introducing the Burgundy duvet
that you've already read so much about!

Yes, here I am in the giant Burgundy monster doing my best to look like a grape linebacker.  To fully appreciate the extent to which an ex-pat California has prepared for the snow, I even have it captioned!  Let me start from the top.

A.  One of the best things about this coat is the hood: lovely, quilted down and big enough that it both fits on my big head (have a ball, my friends!) and I can wear another hat under it.  The latter I'm sure I'll do if it hits the -20C that it did here last year.  It's also handy because I don't have to worry about bringing an umbrella or even a hat when I go out; if it starts to rain or snow, I just flip it up.  It's also good because, with the collar, it forms a nice windbreak on the neck even when I don't have it over my head.  Given that I live between two bays, we can get quite a wind whipping through here.

B.  Me pointing out where I should have a cap on.  Brought 4 of them and have worn two 6 times total.  The Finns would be appalled--winter caps seem to be a requirement!

C.  Scarves are essential.  Generally I have one on, like most Finns, and have since early November.  While the coat buttons nicely against my neck and can even button up over my mouth, I like the adjustability of scarves, and heaven knows, with the stash I still have from my Ireland days, I have enough of them!  On really cold days, I wrap a light one inside and put one of my longer ones outside like I have here.

D.  Yummy gloves.  While some of my Finnish friends wear mittens for the warmth, things haven't bothered me that much yet, and I have several pairs of yummy gloves.  These are my dog walking ones: Polarfleece--easy to get on and off and I can just throw them in the wash.  My favorite are these long, green, suede ones with buttons up the wrist and cashmere lining.  Yum.  Ted doesn't get anywhere near those.

E.  Okay, the first of the letters about the giant, Burgundy duvet that is my winter coat!  (This'll be the one that says nice things.)  It's this high-fill down and super toasty; in fact, a lot of the time I wear just long sleeve T-shirts under it and am fine when it's -11 or -12C.  Because it's so long, too, it keeps me warm all the way to the top of my boots, so here's hoping I won't need to wear those "pant liners" (I think in less delicate days they were called long Johns) that I brought with me.  The coat's also fleece lined on the inside--yum.  What they did was make a quilted coat, then put a smooth, sueded, waterproof lining over it supposedly to minimize the Michelin Man effect.  Doesn't mean that other, equally unflattering effects can't be achieved: when I wear it I feel like one of the players on the sidelines during a snowy day at Lambeau Field!  I also like that the pockets are deep and there are lots of them, some with zips and others with snaps.  The front is that way, too; snaps and a big zip.  Most of the time I just use the snaps because it's too warm with the zipper up.

F.  Here you can see one of the problems: even though the coat is quite large on me (I can wear a blazer under it), the pockets pull when I bring the things I need to for a Ted walk: plastic baggies and my keys.  It means that, because the snaps are unbelievably cheap and spaced too far apart (a good 8"), they pop when I bend over, move too fast, etc.  Not lovely on a windy winter's night when picking up after the beast.  It's why I had to laugh when my dad recommended getting those ski/walking poles for balance on the slippery surfaces.  It's a great suggestion, but given the complications I already have holding Ted, a loose glove, and a bag of dog poop while resnapping this stupid coat in -10C weather, I don't need two more things to juggle!

G.  My best cheap purchase on Zappos: snowboots.  Yes, I made it through 4 years in Dublin and the worst Jura winter in years and never have had snow boots before.  It's amazing how much easier it is to function when you're not sliding around on Adidas cross-trainers. :-)  I love, love, love these--fake sheepskin on the side, good tread on the bottom, easy metal zipper, lots of support, well waterproof, and even comfortable for long walks.  The only thing I hate is having to tuck in my pants so that they don't get wet.  I keep wanting to sing the pirate song from "Pirates of the Caribbean." (The REAL pirates, that is, the Disney ride, not the movie.)

H.  Ted here is wondering when he gets his evening walkie, kind of like he is now.  Can't let the Golden wait!

More to come on Helsinki life with snow, including Kay falls through the ice, Kay marvels at the park, and Kay is astonished at what Finns can walk in the snow wearing.  I'm now off to watch the kids skating in the park!

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