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I could start today by talking about two stupid electrical snafus I’ve had. There’s the one where I unplugged the (functioning) washing machine to plug in my hair dryer (what!? it’s cold) and now had to start the whole cycle again, because I don’t know what it was up to, and I tried whispering, “pick up where you left off” like my precious MacBook does when three months after I started watching the nature DVD I was loaned (thanks Danilo!), I put it back in and the computer asks me if I’d like to start from there. Yes, please! No amount of whispering would help, for what it’s worth. Very rinsed clothes, I’m going to have soon.

The second snafu involves an aha moment where I suddenly understand why Mac laptops come with that stupid magnetic cord that breaks and frays and costs $75 to replace (and takes two weeks to arrive if you don’t give your mother very specific mailing instructions, and sometimes even if you do (love the mother unit, also live in a family were we make fun a little.)) Today I had my computer plugged into the external speakers, playing a little Julieta Venegas and the like while I did my five-songs cleaning routine. When ooooof! I snagged the the non-magnetic cord that connects to the speakers, and my computer fell from coffee table to floor in a sad little whumph. Shook a whole bunch of crap out of the keyboard and turned off. NOOOOOO. We’re up and running again, but I’m thinking I just shouldn’t touch anything else electric for the rest of the day.

Which brings me to the actual point. Cold. We have it. Winter took her time, but here she is, in full force, with grey skies, a low smog ceiling, spitty filthy rain and a precipitous temperature drop. Santiago is not so lovely in the winter. But! Sopaipillas pasadas! (I wrote about them here. I actually don’t like them, but have come to understand that they are one of the truly great things about winter, and also when they put the open barbecue pan with legs (a brasero) under the table or let you grill vegetables on it, like we did at a recent day at the parcela (country house, kind of).

brasero con verduras

Or maybe the best thing about winter is that it’s T’s birthday, and she went all gringa on us and made these excellent cupcakes, also at the parcela, and I did not pose the picture, the backyardigans hat came from another guest who I’d guess bought them at one of those birthday stores, like cumpleaños ely. (what? you don’t have special stores just for birthday products? philistines).

So… the cupcakes.

american birthday, chilean style!

But a close second (third? what am I up to here?) about great winter traditions has got to be the camiseta. If Pablo Neruda were alive today, and were female, certainly he’d have written an ode to them. In French it’s a chemisette. In Rebecca (a faraway gringa who I’ll get to see in Chicago later this northern summer)’s words, “They’re like pantyhose for your arms.” They’re just that. Packed flat in a package that looks like it should hold heavy denier tights, it unfurls to hold a tiny one-size-fits-most long-sleeved shirt in any of a number of colors, sometimes with cute detailing on the sleeves or througout. This you wear as your first layer, and just like long underwear (but imminently less breathable), it keeps your torso toasty.

I recently introduced Still Life to camisetas, and yesterday at the gym when we were stretching on our matching shirtyshirts we waxed elaborate on what a lifesaver they are. And then we exchanged baked goods, because Sunday found us both playing “I’m baking, but I’m also heating up this frigid cuchitríl (hovel) that I call home.” Which actually might trump the camiseta. But just barely. Mmmm, banana bread.

Having trouble picturing the camiseta? Go here. Having trouble picturing it being cold right now? I offer you my couch to spend a frigid night on. Bring your own camiseta.