A day at the shop – 1/30/10

shop 003 I always enjoy my time at my B&M, for me it is my shop time. Whether it is spent on a Saturday afternoon with all the guys filtering in, or during the week with a bit of solitude and time to really get some work done on a pipe, it is always rewarding. For anyone that is interested, my B&M, Smokers Haven of the Southdown’s has a pipe sale going on. Now the website doesn’t list the available pipes, but you can call and see if they have something that maybe you have been looking for. The site was not intended to be a web store because they pride themselves on old fashioned customer service. Brian prefers to talk to someone on the phone over simply seeing their email address. They have been doing mail order for 30 years though, so if you are interested in anything or are looking for something specific, give them a call.


Front Top 2 Yesterday was no exception, as I finished a pipe and re-stemmed one of my old standbys that was just a bit on the short side. My Canadian Apple is a pipe that I have been working on for about 3 weeks, and just couldn’t seem to find the shop time to finish it. I hadn’t been to the shop in over 2 weeks including last Saturday, so it sat on my shelf at home, looking rather neglected. Well, it’s done now, and I’m quite content with the outcome. She is a long shanked Apple (I have seen it referred to as a Canapple, but I don’t want to steal the name) perfectly proportioned, drilled spot on and the grain turned out to be rather impressive. You can see the rest of the pictures of her at Windjammer Pipes.

Brian finished up a gorgeous Paneled English Freehand. Hard to really nail down the shape of the pipe since many of Brians’ creations are Charatan inspired, and anyone that knows Charatan is aware that they were not always producing pieces from the standard shape chart. It is a gorgeous piece though and I wish I would have gotten some pictures of it.

All in all it was a great day smoking, shooting the breeze and getting some work done. I intend on spending a couple days there this week, so I might have some more pipe updates. I have a volcano in the works that looks like it is going to be pretty.


H.R. 4439… What now?

H.R. 4439 has been the talk of the pipe smoking town for the last week. It has a lot of people up in arms, and rightfully so (to some extent). Just when we thought that nothing more could happen and the government couldn’t be anymore oppressive, this happens. Now, I’m not going to drone on and on about the politics here, quite honestly there is no point in talking about the politics. I do think however that we all need to take a step back and breathe.

Do I think that we shouldn’t be concerned… no, I think by all means we need to be aware and most importantly pro-active. That’s why before I get any farther I want to post this link, Petition Against H.R. 4439. The folks over at Pipes Magazine.com got this petition started and it’s a great way to speak out against this new tax. It’s also a great petition, it sends emails off to your individual congressman based on your zip code… kinda cool.

Anyway, the whole point of this article is to simply remind everyone not to get to caught up in the “hype” aspect of this. What I mean to say (and not to get to technical) but this is just in the early stages, and might not even make it anywhere near becoming a law. Again… be proactive, sign the petition and take steps individually, complacency is the worst thing we can do. However; this was just introduced into committee. There is a very good chance it will never make it out of committee. I’m not going to bore everyone or waste their time explaining the process, so I will simply link to it here. For those that have been out of high school for a decade or more, you might want to brush up on your Government 101 a little. The process can be found here, “How a Bill becomes a Law”.

I’m not trying to downplay the danger here, it is obvious that our hobby is being attacked. It is also most certainly up to us to make sure that it doesn’t happen, but it is also important to keep a clear head and stay in this for the long haul. The attention that our community is giving this issue is phenomenal, but what happens if it passes through committee and it becomes a SERIOUS problem for us. Will it be forgotten by then? Are we all getting caught up in the immediate hype? I think that we all need to avoid jumping into action only when an issue like this arises, but stay ever vigilant. Keep in touch with your congressman, write them, email them and let them know that this issue concerns you and that you are a taxpayer and a voter. If we all spent as much time, energy and money protecting our hobby as we do building our cellars and collections, we would be much better off.

Hysteria dies, vigilance persists.

Another great blog…

I try to keep apprised of the various blogs that are out there and recently found this one, Billiard’s Cobblings. Many might think, “Isn’t that competition?”. I say no, just another source for good information. We must all stick together right?

Take a gander over to his site and check it out. He does some amazing things with cobs and briars, well worth the look. Enjoy!

Happy Find

I think everyone goes through those moments where they just can’t figure out what to smoke. I have often found myself digging through my tobacco stash when this happens and either come across a “long lost friend” blend or something that maybe I wasn’t crazy about that I give another go.

I had this issue the other night. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what I was in the mood to puff on, so I dug through my open tins and came across a “long lost friend” blend, Middlebury Mixture. This was the blend that got me into English blends. It’s light, Burley based with red VA and a touch of Latakia and Turkish.

What’s great about this blend is it’s got just a touch of sweetness and it is stout enough to make you feel like you are not smoking pure air. Anyway, just an off the cuff entry tonight.

If you are in an off mood, take a peek through your stash, you might just come across an “old friend” and be happy you took the time to look.

Waxing philosophical…

4062319992_31a2174488 This was my winning entry in a contest on a forum last month. It’s nothing special, but I thought it quite descriptive of our hobby, so I figured I would share it with you here. The goal was to describe what we thought “Brotherhood of the Briar” meant… here is my interpretation.

I believe Brotherhood of Briar is an intangible thing. Oh, surely there is that aspect of trust, and appreciation and kindness that is associated with the phrase, but I think that it runs deeper. To me it is quite simple, yet complicated in the way that others who do not experience it could not describe it or understand it. I think it goes something like this…
"Your pipe, so smooth, so familiar, you notice every detail about your venerable acquaintance, the curve of the stem, the smooth subtle round of the bowl, the gnarled look that you see in an old tree that has enjoyed life and weathered every storm with you, yet still stands strong and proud. Others may look at your pipe and see an object, but you know that it is more, there is a kinship there, unspoken but communicated with ease. This simple tool is a friend.
You do as you have done time and time again, placing that old friend ever so gently into your soft, worn, sweet smelling tobacco pouch. Carefully, you fill your bowl, not with the same fervor of lighting a cigarette but with the patience of a surgeon, noting when you have just the right spring in the pack. As you roll your pouch up and place it into your pocket, you set your friend in that familiar spot, just off center in the right of your mouth, clenching it where it has been for the last decade. Ah, the part that you both anticipate, now it is time for you and your old friend to start your conversation. You strike a match and carefully lay flame to the soft strings of tobacco peeking from the top of the bowl, puffing, thinking, relaxing… contemplative.
This is a conversation you have had many times, and you and your old friend always see eye to eye. These conversations are not always deep, but they are always meaningful and moreover enjoyed by both of you. That old friend has always been there, in that same spot for oh so many years and hopefully many more to come. With the pain and cruelty in the world the two of you share a serenity that is unmatched by anything else, a silent understanding unparalleled by the darkest night and the deepest midnight sky. This is truly friendship, one of silent contribution. Helping without a word and without the need for acknowledgment. You have taken care of your friend, and your friend has done the same for you.
Standing but a few paces away a man watches this conversation. He does so in silence and with understanding, for he has had this conversation before. Firmly held in the corner of his mouth is his friend, swirling that safety net of thick blue/gray solidarity up around his head. He smiles a wry little smile and offers you a nod, for he knows what kinship you enjoy… "The Brotherhood of the Briar”.