Monday, January 26, 2009

A Bout with Gout

OK- I know this may come under the "more than you want to know" heading, but I'll continue this post anyway. It will explain (provide an excuse) for the lack of new posts for the past week. I have had gout, a build up of uric acid in the system that crystalizes around joints (usually the feet) and causes swelling and a dang lot of pain. They say it is something akin to arthritis. All I know is that it hurts. Before my first encounter with gout 5 or 6 years ago, I assumed it was a disease of the 17th century. Something for Lords, Dukes and Earls who spent their days eating chops, steak and kidney pie and washing it all down with a good stout madera. It's certainly true that diet does have a lot to do with the conditions onset, but apparently some people just have a propensity for it. And I'm one of those lucky ones. The good news is that I have changed my diet and gotten the Holiday Food Monkey off my back. No more turkey and dressing, ham sandwiches, egg nog, pound cake, tole house cookies, godiva chocolate and huge cinnamon rolls. Now I'm eating right, just like my wife has continually told me I should and I am feeling much better. I can walk with just a slight old man limp. Everything will be back to normal soon and hopefully I will have something better to write about here than my medical condition. -T

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Art of Pipe Smoking

This is one of several books that Gary Schrier mentions in his book The Confessions of a Pipeman and it is very similar in it's approach. Writer Joaquin Verdaguer teaches and extols the virtues of pipe smoking. Geared towards the beginner, never the less, this book has plenty of information for the more experienced smoker too. And it is utterly charming. It is a pleasure to sit and read while enjoying a good pipe at the end of a bustling ramshackle day. Originally published in 1958, it still holds up well today. -T

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Vollmer & Nilsson for Cousin #2

Not to be outdone by Cousin #1, here's my V&N Christmas/New Years pipe. This makes my 7th pipe for Anders and Martin and it is great. All their pipes are great. The workmanship and engineering are perfect. The bad thing about getting one of their pipes is it makes you want to get another. -T

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Confessions of a Pipeman

I'm sure everyone is relieved to see that the "Confessions" aren't mine. That would be a slightly embarrassing and pretty boring read for sure. No- these confessions are Gary B. Schrier's, and they are not embarrassing or boring! This is a really enjoyable book. I recommend it to anyone with the least interest in pipes. Whether you're new to the pipe or you've been smoking and collecting for the last half century, there is something in this book for you. And as I heard someone say, "just the fact that a new book has been written about pipe smoking, is reason enough to buy it". -T

Here's where you can purchase Gary's book and find a little more information on it's contents -

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Clichés and Prejudice

On my morning walk the other day, I stopped to empty the ash and small amount of dottle from my pipe. I looked at this little pile of remains and I thought, "If I were to come across that pile of ash and dottle on the trail, I would think- A pipe smoker has been here. He's out enjoying the wonders of nature. I bet he is an older gentleman, somewhat introspective, probably intelligent. A man that thinks and reads. A very interesting man." I filled my next pipe and walked on still thinking about this really wonderful (and totally fictitious) man when I saw a faded cigar band. "Now this fellow is a portly man. He's probably out for a walk on doctor's orders. A heart condition brought on by over-indulgences of various kinds.' I started looking for a body on the trail ahead. Poor man grasping his chest, wondering why he had tried to walk so far and thinking if he could just have a sip of bourbon he would be ok.
I walked on thinking about him for quite a while. Then on the path I spotted 2 cigarette butts in close succession. Ah, now this character was up to no good. Beady eyes, nervous. What was he doing out here? A drug deal I bet. Something illicit. I just hoped that children weren't involved. I hurried on my way hoping to catch this demon before he could do more harm. Soon I gave up the chase and started to ponder the notion that these were stereotypes that have somehow lodged in my brain. Why? Where did they come from? And why did I submit to them?
The 1st- the pipe smoker is easy. It's a comfortable, likable image. One of the reasons  I took up pipe smoking is because of this characterization. It was a skin I could wear and hope to fill out one day. The 2nd, the cigar smoker probably was reinforced by my visits to pipe and tobacco stores. There's always a group of sedentary guys sitting around and swapping stories. "Bourbon", "football" and possibly "grill some steaks" are words I pick up from their conversations. And then there's the cigarette smoker who has become a villain in our society. I'm surprised when I stop and think how I've fallen for this hatchet-job the antis have done. I've know a lot of cigarette smokers and there where some I thought evil, but many that were warm hearted and as friendly as could be.
Anyway ... this sure has me thinking ... and wondering too. What other stereo-types could be lurking in my head? Maybe I don't think enough ... have enough awareness. Maybe I don't deserve to be a pipe smoker. -T

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cousin #1's Christmas pipe!

I treated myself to a Vollmer and Nilsson pipe for Christmas this year. (I had been a particularly good boy)Back in September I emailed Anders and Martin to discuss what I was looking for and after a few back and forth correspondences this is what we came up with. I knew that the brothers would do a great job. The other V&N pipes that I have are fantastic smokers. Having said that, I was totally overwhelmed by the beauty of the pipe that came in the mail. The color, the bird's eye, the grain on the top of the bowl, the cumberland stem, the silver work all combine to make for an unbelievably elegant pipe. On the first weekend of the New Year, I joined Tim in his studio along with our good friend David and had the "Maiden Smoke" of my new pipe. It smokes as great as it looks and the pleasure that I had smoking it for the first time with my old (very old) friends was a wonderful way to celebrate the beginning of 2009. -M

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What a pleasant smell!

The other day I was running errands when I stopped at the liquor store. I put my pipe in my pocket and went in, conducted my business, came out, got in my vehicle, grabbed the matches and relit my pipe then drove away. I left the parking lot by a back street, went up 3 blocks, turned left, proceeded another block to the light. Turned right at the light and drove on another mile down the busy parkway. Sitting at a red light on the parkway I started smelling a very pleasant smell. It was like honey. "That smells like honey" I thought to myself. It made me think of the McConnell Ripe Honeydew tobacco I opened recently. But I wasn't smoking that now. I was smoking Sam Gawith Best Brown Flake and I thought "What a nice smoke this BBF is". But then as I tried to catch another nice whiff of that lovely honey smell I thought "Now it smells like burning plastic". I glanced over and saw on the little ledge under my dash board the empty Orlik tin I use as a match depository. It was engulfed in flames! The tin, not the dash board - yet. I immediately jumped into action and started blowing at it. The light turned green. I drove forward, blowing. I was having no luck with this method of extinguishing the flames., so I picked up the can and held it head height ... only to realize a couple of seconds later that my thumb and fore finger were in pain and starting to adhere to the can. "Sweet Mother of God!" I yelled. I'm not sure where this came from since I'm not Catholic or even Christian to speak of. But that's what came out. I turned into a parking lot, threw the flaming can on the passenger side floor board- hoping this might blow it out. Instead, half the matches landed in a pile on the floor still burning and the can itself burned as bright as ever. I returned to my puffing theory of fire removal and it had decent results this time. The can was out. Now just a small pile of matches on the floor board still blazing. I looked around for something to smother them with. Nothing. Wait! The new linen scarf I got for Christmas! I grabbed it and after just 2 swats I had put the fire out. And the scarf has ... character now. Anyway, the moral or lesson learned here is- Save the lids of the metal Orlik tins. -T

Monday, January 5, 2009

Fine English Tradition

As I was heading to bed last night, my wife informed me that the weatherman was predicting freezing rain for this morning. "You might want to skip your walk in the morning" said she. Of course this only stoked the fire of my resolve to walk at least 5 mornings a week. I would of course go for my walk in the woods! I fell asleep thinking about what I should wear and which pipes to take for such weather. When I hopped out of bed and looked (actually listened- it was still pitch black) there was no freezing rain. My wife is usually right, so I prepared for the worst. The pipes I chose, and the real point to this tale, were two Blakemar Briars that I ordered from England a couple of years ago. I bought them for days just like today was supposed to be. They were not expensive, but not too cheap either. I want a pipe to smoke like a champ even if I do only fork over enough cash for a slightly gifted novice. I dropped the pipes in a coat pocket, grabbed my tobacco pouch and away I went. Still no freezing rain. I reached the woods, loaded my rusticated lovat w/ Sam Gawith Best Brown Flake, lit it and started walking. About five minutes down the trail and I noticed just what a wonderful smoke I was having. I have neglected these two fine pipes. I have relegated them  to cart horse status when they should be ... I don't know ...  hunter/jumpers. I don't know much about horses. Anyway- this was a nice pipe. A good smoker. It's comfortable. It has a nice rugged look to it and a silver band to give it a little flash. I began to feel guilty. I should smoke these pipes more often. Heck I should tell the world about these pipes. Which brings us to this point in the story where I come home and write a post on the Two Cousins Blog about Blakemar Briars- but I'm tired of writing and my mind is wandering, so I will ask you to please take a look at their website. They provide wonderful service and the prices are very good ... and the pipes a very very good! -T