Saturday, December 17, 2011

Copper and Brass -- Lovely Metals!

In December I polish metals -- copper and brass.  It's a messy business but I love every piece I have and that makes the chore a labour of love.

The samovar above is one of my favourite pieces.  At well over a hundred years, it still looks good.  It came to me in Moscow via one of the Russian drivers at the Canadian Embassy.  I have a feeling it has mix and match parts but everything seems to fit so there it is.  I've had it (and cleaned it) for 40 years.

Now, a week before Christmas, all the metals have been cleaned and polished, from the copper kettles in the kitchen to the podstakanniks on the hall stand.  A little bit of gleam for the holidays.  They will all look nicer after a few weeks when they begin to acquire a patina but the new shine is perfect for Christmas.

Is it worth the mess, the smell and the attack on my fingernails?  You bet!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Is Almost Here

Christmas is almost here.  I can tell because the buds are swelling on the Schlumbergera  (Christmas Cactus).  My Christmas Cactus is an old variety.   It’s one of the Christmas Cacti that has stem segments (phylloclades)  that do not have the pronounced points along the sides.  It’s probably Schlumbergera x buckleyi.  While I don’t have the original plant, my plant is a cutting of a cutting of a cutting of my grandmother’s plant. I inherited my first plant in 1976 and have periodically taken cuttings and discarded the mother plant in favour of a smaller one. 

This cactus actually blooms at Christmas and is getting ready to bloom as we speak.  I keep it in a cool room in my house and never, never move it once it has begun to set bloom.  The plant sits in light that is also perfect for African violets.

I used to summer the plant outside.  One year I almost lost it when forgot about it and left it outside after the first bad frost.  When it was brought in, all the stem segments shriveled and died but the main plant was OK and put out new stems.  There was no bloom that year but the plant lived to bloom again the next year.

After so many years, my Christmas Cactus is an old friend.  I get a feeling that all’s right with the world when the Christmas Cactus blooms.