Monday, August 27, 2012

Family Treasures

As a result of Arthur's parents' move into a condo in Winnipeg, some of the family treasures were given new homes.

We were delighted to be put in charge of taking care of the Samovar shown above. The story goes that family members fled from Russia with it. It's really heavy so the whole idea of fleeing with something like that needs some more discussion with Mom and Dad.

Our goal is to get it into shape so that we can actually use it. In order to do that, we had to figure out how to use one. This is what we’ve learned so far. The big reservoir holds hot water that is heated by live coal or burning pine cones in the middle chamber. A very strong concentrated tea is brewed on top of the samovar. When you want some tea, the hostess pours a bit of concentrate into your cup and then adds hot water from the samovar. Through our research into samovars we have learned that they were often taken on picnics or used outdoors. This is what we plan to do. (When it is being heated with coal, the samovar will be outside. We live in a wooden house and pay a lot for insurance as it is!)

Interestingly, Arthur writes from Iraq: "This is samovar country. There are all kinds of double tea pots everywhere. Each morning we get served our tea in two pourings, the concentrate and then water. My colleagues are making jokes about my enthusiasm for samovars. I'll try to restrain myself from bringing one home."

When we got this brass one from Mom and Dad, the outside was quite tarnished and the inside was scaly and it didn't look like you’d want to drink water that came out of it. However, after about 5 hours of heavy rubbing and polishing from two of us along with a day-long soak I think it is almost ready to go..

We also go this cupboard. It used to sit in the basement at the bottom of the stairs. Arthur cleaned up the outside and painted the inside and now it sits in our dining room proudly showing off his grandmother's china which we inherited quite a few years ago.