Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tape Soap, Fur Or Sheets? The Cold Beats All

It's winter! Russia's calendar has finally caught up with the weather. My friend Robert, who has never accepted the fact that Russia defies natural law and international norms and just sails into a change of seasons three weeks early, will probably continue grimly wearing his fall jacket and lightweight shoes until the winter solstice.


As for me, I dragged out the furs on Oct. 24 and began weatherproofing my apartment when Sasha, my beautiful Alaskan malamute, met me at the door one day wearing a sweater, hat and gloves.


My apartment is a bit chilly. It seems that the mayor has decreed that we Muscovites must save on heating fuel, and apartments do seem to be a few degrees colder than in previous winters. Not that there was not room for it. Most Moscow flats, including my own, try to simulate the tropics in winter months - last year I thought of buying a few palm trees, a lot of Hawaii posters, and changing into a swimsuit when I came home in the evenings.


But no more. Now I have to get serious about the great Russian winter pastime - gluing one's windows tight shut so that not a breath of fresh air can penetrate into one's apartment until the first week in April.


My preferred method is strips of foam rubber. They are the least intrusive, but I am informed by the more initiated that Moscow air is so bad that it eats the rubber. I try not to think what it must be doing to my lungs, but in the interests of saving on foam rubber strips, I went looking for other suggestions.


I simply refused to adopt the bunched-up-newspaper-and-masking-tape approach. My profession already brings me into contact with more newsprint than is healthy and I certainly do not want to have to live with it 24 hours a day. Besides, I thought I would probably be up all night reading the little bits that stuck out.


Another suggestion was to cut old sheets into strips and use soap to stick them to the window frames. I have not been living here quite long enough to have old sheets, though, and slicing new ones up to seal the windows just does not seem right. and what kind of soap are you supposed to use? All I have is the liquid stuff in a pump bottle. I rejected this option as too confusing.


A friend of mine went the cotton batting route. I find that I get nervous with all that white fuzz sticking out around the windows. It feels as if I have got snowdrifts on the inside.


Many people have suggested that I use Sasha's hair to insulate the apartment. I collect great quantities of it every day - and it's quite warm and cuddly, just like Sasha. But one look into her big brown eyes convinced me that she would probably not stand for it. Producing fur for practical purposes is just not her style. She is purely decorative.


So I went back to my first plan, the rubber strips. The problem is I still had all the pieces left from last year, but I had no idea which strip went on which window. I spent an entire weekend trudging from window to window with my bag of strips, trying to piece them all together like a jigsaw puzzle.


Who says life isn't fun and full of adventure in Moscow?