alfreda89: (Winter)
[personal profile] alfreda89
Blimpcoat

I suspect that most people have a blimpcoat.

Oh, not exactly a *blimpcoat*--they have an article of clothing that they can't bear to part with because there are times it is indispensable. More than once you toss it in the box for charity, or even into the rag bag.

Later, you retrieve it. Because.

Blimpcoat is like that. I even scrubbed it with a mild soap last year. A friend tells me there's now a cleaner made for slick-surfaced winter coats and jackets. Can it take off decades of fine grit? Do I want it to? I might look like a tourist in a clean coat.

Longer ago than I like to think, I was on a plane heading for Chicago O'Hare International Airport. It was close to Christmas and the city was experiencing a deep freeze. After living in Texas long enough to get rid of my heaviest gear, I was layered and hopeful. We could survive this trip! Then the extending ramp had a malfunction, and we had to walk down a rolling staircase and across the tarmac to the terminal.

"My nose hairs just froze," said my companion.

It did not bode well.

Friends picked us up, and we headed for the suburbs. On the way, my astute host stopped by a discount cold weather gear store. My companion found something, but the only thing left in the shop that fit me well was a powder blue full length down coat, its stitching horizontal.

When I looked in the mirror, I looked a lot like the Michelin Man.

I couldn't do it. We got in the car and continued driving. Twenty minutes into the drive, I knew I had made a mistake. My blood had thinned, as we say--I could no longer handle a Midwestern winter. It might take weeks to build back up to comfort.

During dinner, my host leaned over and said: "They are open tonight."

We went back to the discount store, and there it hung--blimpcoat. No one else wanted to be the Michelin Man, either. I learned at that moment that I had the seeds of my character Alfreda Sorensson within me. Survive first, worry about how you look later. Blimpcoat left wrapped around my slender form. Amid all the humor, I knew the truth: I was in love with my Michelin Man costume.

By the end of the trip, I grew used to the jokes...and to people trying to crawl into the coat with me. When we left parties, I would have to excavate blimpcoat, because the cats and dogs living in the house would be curled up inside of it. Later when I went to Canada in late October, we used blimpcoat as a blanket on the plane and in the hotel. When I gardened in the winter, it was my go-to coat. Eventually I could not really wear it anymore, so I left blimpcoat open and stacked my clothes beneath it, letting it be the top layer.

Blimpcoat has hung neglected in closets for years. It was wadded up in the bottom of a clothes sack. It even survived the humidity of a Texas summer, forgotten in a garage. I tossed blimpcoat into a washing machine once, desperate to clean it. It survived, shrinking slightly, but the stitching is like iron. I gained new respect for it. Someone had made that coat to last.

My magical blimpcoat fits me again (with less room for layers, thanks to that one washing.) It's still powder blue with a thin layer of grit where I brushed past dirty cars or carried bags of brush. The tight stitching holds within it feathers old enough to have descendants.

I looked at new coats on sale when I had to go to the Midwest during the Polar Vortex. But I had blimpcoat. Did I want to look like a tourist? So I picked up all the new things required for the neck and extremities, and stepped off the plane looking like I had returned home.

Why, yes, people have offered me money for blimpcoat...usually during a deep freeze.

Are you crazy? I'm the Michelin Woman. How could you find me on the streets of Chicago, if I got a new coat? Besides, as you can see, it doesn't really hang on a chair--it stands around steel tomato ladders like a wind break. Could I find a new coat that took better care of me than this? Not until blimpcoat is ready to pass on the torch.

I don't think that will happen any time soon.

Date: 2015-11-28 03:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] originalkitsune.livejournal.com
Did you know you should only wash down with special cleaning solutions such as "down wash" right? I am just checking because many people think you can wash with regular detergent or woolite. When you wash with detergent you are affecting the loft of the feathers. What keeps you warm in the coat is that the feathers create spaces by repelling each other. After washing with reg detergent a down coat might be destroyed. the feathers lay smashed thus the coat will be colder. :( that is also why it is never a good idea to buy a used down coat unless you know the person and know that they use the correct cleaning products.

This is one of my faves: http://www.nikwax.com/en-us/products/productdetail.php?productid=266
Edited Date: 2015-11-28 03:38 pm (UTC)

Date: 2015-11-28 07:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alfreda89.livejournal.com
The amazing thing about this coat is, it's still very, very warm. I think the compartments are watertight--they don't breathe. Which may not be the way a true down coat is supposed to work, but surely if this thing had polyester in it, it would have lumped and died years ago? I kid you not, Kit, this coat is 25 years old.

But it has been washed once in 25 years.

Date: 2015-11-29 02:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sheilagh.livejournal.com
I have a blimpcoat! Laine gave it to me years ago, result of her "retail therapy" habit of shopping. not as long as yours, and unnoticeably black, but warm, warm, none the less.

Date: 2015-11-29 05:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alfreda89.livejournal.com
Blimpcoat solidarity!

Date: 2015-11-30 01:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aberwyn.livejournal.com
I don't have a blimpcoat but I have a maroon and ochre flannel pullover shirt that comes out whenever I feel flu-ish or chilled. It makes me look like . . . well, something I can't even label, but wotthehell, it's warm and soft. So yep, I understand.

Date: 2015-12-02 05:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alfreda89.livejournal.com
We the survivalists!

Date: 2015-12-01 06:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] starcat-jewel.livejournal.com
I have a pretty blue quilted jacket from (believe it or not) Holyclothing, which is currently my go-to winter coat. It's large enough to layer underneath, and has kept me warm in blizzard weather.

Date: 2015-12-02 05:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alfreda89.livejournal.com
I just found out about Holy Clothing, and will definitely check them out when I am flush for new shirts.

(I still have the old magic. I can't get to my winter clothing in the storage shed--can't lift that much for several more weeks--so had to finally get a new jacket after 17 years. My friend's cat found it with no trouble while we were elsewhere in the house!) Hope to get to blimpcoat before traveling north.

OT

Date: 2015-12-07 04:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 6-penny.livejournal.com
I have been treating myself to a reread of Spiral Path. Most satisfying. I'm still surprised about Esme - she is not like I had guessed she would be at all! I do hope that we will see more of her (and Shaw) and I am also longing to learn more of the Glenngarseea.

Re: OT

Date: 2015-12-07 06:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alfreda89.livejournal.com
I am glad that Esme is not what you expected. It's part of the family line's strength--they are not what either their potential allies or enemies expect! Yes, she will be back, and Shaw, and the glen--Allie has a few more adventures in cities to splice into her life before she returns to the forests for adulthood. So glad you enjoyed it. Some people do not get it in the sequence. But Allie cannot know what she wants if she doesn't see other places, other possible lives.

I wish I could promise an Allie book next year, but I've been doing the last gasp (I hope) of bad health left from Life, Interrupted and other medical adventures. I am rolling along with a longish Allie short story, but it takes place twenty years in the future. So some people may not want to read it yet! (I explain it as, you may think you know what will happen--but you don't know *how* it happened. That will eventually be revealed. So, a peek into the future tells you how a Seer feels...)

But yes, a new Allie book should start rolling soon...

Re: OT

Date: 2015-12-08 12:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 6-penny.livejournal.com
Good luck with your health. Lyme is a rat-bastard. I've just been gifted with a mysterious new allergy ... possibly to some sort of food. Not a good time of the year for that!
Yay Allie doing more travels. I presume that the orange cat will also be in her environs. (not WITH her. Cats are too independent - just ask them!)

Re: OT

Date: 2015-12-08 02:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alfreda89.livejournal.com
Well, the cat hasn't shown up in the short story. Cats are like that. But I expect the cat to hang around a while!

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