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Pipes, pipes and more pipes

Not long ago, a YouTube friend of mine was looking for a little pipe restoration project to hone his skills (in reality, this guy’s skills need no honing.  He’s absolutely amazing at what he does). He probably wasn’t looking to tackle a huge project, but that’s exactly what I sent him.  I shipped off eight pipes total and he carefully restored each one to pristine condition.  My pipe collection isn’t stellar.  In reality, it’s just a collection of mostly cheap ebay finds and one pipe, my first pipe, that I’ve had for about twelve years or so.  But each pipe means something to me and it thrills me beyond words to have them looking so good.

I’ve also made two pipe purchases lately.  The first one is a Mark Balkovec pipe and it is a thing of beauty!

The other pipe is a Stanwell:

The sad thing is that I haven’t even had a chance to smoke either of these two pipes since I’ve been so busy with work and other things!  Hopefully I’ll get a chance sometime this weekend to enjoy both of them.

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Posted by on July 13, 2011 in Pipe and cigar thoughts

 

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Smoking Spiritualized

I came across this poem some time ago.  I loved it the first time I read it and have read it many times since.

PART I

This Indian weed now wither’d quite,
‘Tho’ green at noon, cut down at night,
Shows thy decay;
All flesh is hay.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

The pipe so lily-like and weak,
Does thus thy mortal state bespeak.
Thou art ev’n such,
Gone with a touch.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

And when the smoke ascends on high,
Then thou behold’st the vanity
Of worldly stuff,
Gone with a puff.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

And when the pipe grows foul within,
Think on thy soul defil’d with sin;
For then the fire,
It does require.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

And seest the ashes cast away;
Then to thyself thou mayest say
That to the dust
Return thou must.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.
PART II

Was this small plant for thee cut down?
So was the plant of great renown;
Which mercy sends
For nobler ends.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

Doth juice medicinal proceed
From such a naughty foreign weed?
Then what’s the pow’r
Of Jesse’s flow’r?
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

The promise, like the pipe, inlays,
And by the mouth of faith conveys
What virtue flows
From Sharon’s rose.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

In vain th’ unlighted pipe you blow;
Your pains in inward means are so,
‘Till heav’nly fire
Thy heart inspire.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

The smoke, like burning incense tow’rs
So should a praying heart of yours,
With ardent cries,
Surmount the skies.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2011 in Pipe and cigar thoughts

 

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On not smoking

There are times in my life when I have no desire to smoke.  Usually, at least for me, those times occur during the summer months.  Temperatures are so hot and humidity is so sticky that sitting out on the deck for more than a few minutes is almost unbearable.  In just a few minutes time, sweat will be pouring out of me and I’ll be miserable.  That’s not quite the experience I’m looking for when I choose to sit down and enjoy a pipe or cigar.

But there are other times when my attraction to the hobby just isn’t as strong as it is now.  So what does a pipe and cigar hobbyist do in the down times?  I suggest you go with your gut and put the pipes and cigars down for as long as you feel you need.  Don’t be negligent of your humidor (like I was) or pipe tobacco.  Make sure to keep everything hydrated so that your investments don’t dry up, but feel free to take some time off.  Many people I know, myself included, take time away from the hobby for any number of reasons.  Some people abstain from the use of tobacco for a certain time for health reasons or because they are testing themselves to be sure they are not becoming addicted to the hobby or, specifically in this economy, just to save a little extra cash.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  Just because you take a month or two off from smoking doesn’t make you any less of a pipe or cigar smoker.  In fact, taking some much needed time off might reinvigorate your passion for the pipe or cigar.

Like I said, it has been my practice over the past twelve or so years to purposefully abstain from smoking for extended periods of time.  I always want to make sure that pipe and cigar smoking remains for me a hobby and not a need. I always want to enjoy the tobacco but I never want to feel like I need it.  And it’s always a wonderful day when I get the desire back, fill a pipe with my favorite blend and light up!  As the saying goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2011 in Pipe and cigar thoughts

 

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My current project

My journey into the hobby of pipe and cigar smoking can be defined as “seasonal.”  I began by enjoying cigars at the ripe age of eighteen.  At the time, I thought I had found the love of my life and that I would never be tempted by another ever again.  That is until the one day that I strayed from my first love by purchasing my first pipe and pipe tobacco.  It was a sweet escape from cigars and I enjoyed my pipe for a few months before returning to cigars.  And so I’ve played this on-again-off-again game for now well over a decade.  I will go months enjoying cigar after cigar only to be lured back into the realm of the pipe and all the many flavors its tobacco provides.

Last year turned out to be quite the year for pipes.  I acquired quite a few new pipes and really began experimenting with new tobacco blends and flakes.  It seemed the more I tried, the more I kept looking for that perfect blend or flake.  The more pipes I acquired, the harder I chased that perfect pipe with just the right draw.  And I did all of this at the expense of my cigar collection which was being neglected in a humidor that was not being given proper humidification.  Each time I looked at my humidor I told myself that I needed to reseason my humidor so that my sticks wouldn’t dry out, but each time I would find something else to do.

Until last Sunday.

I’m now coming out of a “pipe season” and transitioning into a “cigar season” of life.  So what does a man heading into a cigar season need?  Well, he needs cigars.  And a lot of them!  Last Sunday, I took my humidor off the shelf, dusted it off and slowly raised the lid with apprehension as if I were opening up a casket that had been buried long ago.  Yes, just as I had assumed, the cigars were very dry.  And mind you, I’ve got some prized possessions in this humidor!  Five or so Opus X cigars.  Maybe ten Cuban Bolivars and Cohibas.  I almost cried when I saw just how dried out they were!

But I’ve done some research and I’m encouraged that my collection of sticks might be able to be saved…to a point.  Of course, they’ve forever lost the oily texture that well-humidified cigars have, but from what I’ve read, I can slowly (and very gently) rehumidify my collection back to life.  This process, from what I understand, takes time.  Lots of time.  But I figure time is all I have.  It took time for these bad boys to dry out and it will take time to bring them back from the dead.

As I understand, in order to do this, you have to introduce humidity back into the cigars very slowly so the wrappers won’t burst, thus ruining the cigar totally from a construction point of view.  To accomplish this, I reseasoned my humidor but I’m trying to keep the humidity around 50% or so until the cigars get acclimated to that level of humidity.  In a few weeks, I’ll bump up the humidity a little more by adding another humidification device and hope for the best.  I’ll keep doing this until the cigars are at the proper humidification and hopefully save my collection.  Most of the cigars are replaceable so if it doesn’t work, then at least I gave it the ol’ college try.  But I would really love to hang on to the Opus X’s and Cubans.  So I’m keeping my fingers crossed and I’ve learned a valuable lesson:  If you’re going to cheat on your cigars by smoking pipes for an extended period of time, don’t forget to take the stogies out for a night on the town every once in awhile.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2011 in Pipe and cigar thoughts

 

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An old friend

Yesterday was the day that all people pretend to be Irish. And yesterday I thought it would be fitting to smoke my Peterson pipe to keep the Irish theme alive. And as I was smoking, I realized how little I actually smoke that pipe. I don’t know why, but I find that when I reach for a pipe, I just usually overlook this one. So, aside from the fact that I specifically wanted to smoke an Irish-born pipe, I’m glad I smoked my Peterson because it reminded me about all the things I love about this pipe.

First and foremost, I love the shape of the pipe. I’ve always loved the classic pipe shapes and this fits the bill (no pun intended) to a tee. Second, I love the sturdy construction of the pipe. It’s a handful of a pipe and the bit is rugged enough to withstand a clench without breaking. The third thing I like about this particular pipe is the Peterson “p-lip.” If you’re unfamiliar with this, it basically allows you to draw the smoke through the pipe and into the roof of your mouth instead of the back of your throat. It does take a little getting used to, but it makes for a different experience which is quite pleasurable.

So here’s to somewhat neglected pipes! Do you have a pipe that doesn’t get used as much as your others? Maybe you could take this weekend to pull it out of the pipe rack and give it some use. You might find that it will become one of your favorites!

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2011 in Pipe and cigar thoughts

 

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Tranquility

We live in an age where smoking tobacco is demonized. It’s unsafe. It’s unhealthy. It’s addicting. It causes cancer. The list goes on and on. And yet since the age of nineteen, I have found myself drawn to the art of smoking tobacco whether it be a cigar or in a pipe. Much to the chagrin of my well-meaning parents, I began enjoying cigars just after high school. I would get together with friends at the local tobacconist after a long day of class or work and enjoy some cigars, coffee and conversation.

I loved the process of choosing a cigar. After all, there were many variables to consider such as taste, cost, construction, etc. Always one to try something new, I tried not to pick the same cigar every time we got together. Inevitably, we would order coffee and get into a deep conversation regarding politics, God or women. It was all very therapeutic and I always found that I left the tobacco shop feeling very much at peace with things in the universe. We certainly didn’t solve all of the world’s (or our own) problems, but I feel the ambiance had a lot to do with the sense of tranquility I felt as I would leave and go on tackling the rest of my day.

And even now, some dozen years later, I have this tremendous sense of calm each time I sit down to enjoy a good cigar or pipe. I echo the words of Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton who said “A good cigar is as great a comfort to a man as a good cry to a woman.” So sit back, relax, fire up a nice cigar or tobacco pipe and just enjoy the tranquility that comes with doing so.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2011 in Pipe and cigar thoughts

 

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