Monday, May 4, 2015

Preferring the Pipe - Part I

I have enjoyed other ways to consume tobacco.  I have had cigarettes, I have smoked cigars.  I have snuffed snuff, sucked snus and I have chewed tobacco.  I have had hookah, vaped vapor, and I have even tried something called doka...which was evil.  I may have even had other forms of tobacco that I cannot remember, but I don't need to remember....I smoke a pipe.  

Why do I smoke a pipe?  Because it is, hands down, no questions asked, the best tobacco fit for me.  On occasion I will let my tobacco usage get out of control and I will fall to smoking cigars, or even cigarettes, but there is little real enjoyment or appreciation...just drug use.  However, when I am in a right relationship with my love of the leaf I am really only interested in a pipe.  I am going to make a genuine effort not to make these articles about comparison to other forms, but I make no promises.  Please enjoy your tobacco however your see fit; however,  I now choose to write about how I have come to the place of only wanting to enjoy the pipe.  Please do not take these words as a criticism of your desired method of tobacco enjoyment, but as a simple song in praise of the lovely pipe and all that it has to offer.

To thiis end, before I begin my raving soliloquies in praise of the pipe, I feel as if the background to this series must be given.  I have been using tobacco since well before it was legal for me to do so.  Stealing cigarettes, and shouldertapping for cans of chewing tobacco were not irregular for me as I approached 18.  But when I came of legal age my first purchase was a pipe.  I loved it, but it was only a part of my tobacco diet.  

Things continued.  On again, off again.  Never more than a can of dip or a pack of cigarettes in the course of a week, and always the pipe as the steady centerpiece of my real tobacco enjoyment, yet even that not at the level of "major addiction."  Yet as life went on there were times when tobacco use got higher, and far more for the functionality of nicotine than for the practice of enjoying the pipe.  Cigarettes, chewing tobacco and cheap cigars became the most standard fare.

Then the fateful day that I discovered the internet pipe smoking community.  Particularly the Youtube pipe smoking community.  Through those gents I really learned to apprecaite the pipe.  Really appreciate the different tobaccos, dig into how to work with different blends and how to taste with skill and patience all that pipe smoking had to offer.  The next years would see rises and falls of other forms of tobacco use, but a steady growth of pipe tobacco enjoyment.  

This  brought me to the place of decision.  I really did enjoy the pipe, but I mostly used tobacco being a slave to the nicotine. I loved the pipe, but hated the addiction.  I decided that all mindless tobacco consumption had to go.  For me (and only for me) I found nearly all of my tobacco use outside of the pipe was, indeed, mindless.  I know many appreciate their cigars, and others really suck real pleasure from a dip, and some only smoke the choicest cigarettes...but for me those were all just methods of "using".  So I decided to strive to give up USING tobacco, and commit to ENJOYING tobacco exclusively.

Gettting through the ugly part of this took some help.  It took prayer, and support of friends.  I also found St. John's Wort, 5-HTP, and L-Theanine (herbal/dietary suppliments) to be helpful.  Even with all of those supports there were some moments where I was less than kind to those around me.  Yet now I am there.  A pipe occasionally.  Not more than a ftwo or three pipes a week.  With no "craving" for nicotine drawing me to it...only the deep desired satisfaction of good fellowship or a quite moment with my dear pipe as an aid to contemplation.  

So why?  Why continue enjoying the pipe when the bonds of addiction are severed?  I will tell you.  I think the pipe is a beautiful experience.  I think it is worth enjoying, in spite of the possible risks.  So that is what I hope to present to you in the coming articles:  Why I love enjoying a pipe.  

Please, dear reader, as this small journey progresses please tell me what it is that you most enjoy about your pipe? Or what it is that you enjoy about your other preferred method of tobacco appreciation?  What do you find beautiful, useful or valuable about it?

Friday, February 27, 2015

What are you enjoying now?

Why, thank you for asking! I have had some wonderful opportunities to enjoy several bowls of good pipe tobacco these past weeks. This time, historically, had been a time of looking with a jealous eye toward spring. This year is no exception. I long for the warm summer afternoon pipes and late night conversations over endlessly burning bowls of tobacco.  Yet, as Graham Green so well writes in The Power and the Glory: "One of the Fathers has told us that joy always depends on pain. Pain is part joy. We are hungry and then think how we enjoy our food at last."

So my anticipatory celebration in the pain of the cold has consisted of several in my regular rotation.  First, plenty of Edwards Special Balkan. This is a blend that is simply synonymous with satisfaction for me. On situations where it is better for me not to smell like a walking Latakia bomb I have been favoring C and D's Nutty Irishman.  I have been poking through this bag for about a year now.  I bought it loving the smell of the topping, but have found it to be a bit bitey. This was a surprise because the time I had it before there was little or no bite.  I suppose our tastes do change.

Another C and D blend I have been enjoying is Morning Drive Time. I bought this for purely romantic reasons.  The idea of blends that honor the working man was too attractive to pass up.  This VA/perique blend lived up to its high calling marvelously. While Dunhill's EarlyMorning Pipe never lived up to the hype for me, Morning Drive Time fits my breakfast smoke profile.

On the over the over the counter side I have been lusting after another package of Carter Hall, which I love so dearly.  However I cannot indulge in it because I still have a package of Sir Walter Raleigh to get through. While satisfying for that burley fix, it simply is not Carter Hall.  Which I recognize is like saying, "This cup of tea simply is not a cup of coffee!"  Yet in pure preference Mmy mouth remembers something lovely about the simplicity of Carter Hall burley.

Finally, my other old standby, Black Watch from Edwards in Denver. It is the first pipe tobacco I remember smoking. I smoked it too quickly and too hot. It bit my tongue, but at the time I knew no better. The vanilla aroma brings back those first beautiful bowls. Then When I learned how to smoke slowly and enjoy the true flavor of the tobacco in sweet sips this tobacco came alive in new and exciting ways.  

But what have you been smoking, dear reader?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Latakia Nights

So very long since I have posted.  Thank you, dear reader for checking back in.  It seems to have been ages.  The reason is simple.  I have not been smoking my pipes enough lately.  Cold weather? Yes.  Busy? Sure.  Mostly just bad priorities.  I have suffered in my mental state for not taking the careful and conscious time of reflection and smoking.  I haven't sacrificed any animals or anything of that nature or woken up in a place that I didn't fall asleep...I have just been stretched.  It is time to get the pipes out.  It is time to return.

The Latakia called me back.

Special Balkan from Edwards.  The cool kindness of Latakia called me back to the great contemplative pass-time.  So wonderful.  There was reviewer of this lovely tobacco that suggested that it makes them feel like they just finished Thanksgiving dinner.  This is a smoke that brings great satisfaction to me.  It isn't just the latakia, the whole package together provides an sense of pleasure that demands that everything slow down.  To a halt.  The world can commence once the experience is over.  And so it is.  The pipe must be smoked and the Special Balkan is supreme.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Does Jesus Get Amazed?"

I received the following question from a young lady in our congregation.  Praying and considering it has touched me and I wanted to share this remarkable question and my thoughts:

"I was wondering, does Jesus ever get amazed?"  

Jesus is seated right now at the right hand of the Father, and I am not sure what his daily reactions to things here on earth specifically looks like.  For us being amazed has to do with being surprised, much of the time, and I don't believe Jesus is ever surprised because he knows everything.

However, Jesus was absolutely amazed when He walked on earth.  What amazed Jesus is VERY important.  Matthew 8:5-10 tells about a time when a centurion (a Roman Soldier who was in charge of a hundred other soldiers) came to Jesus because he wanted Jesus to heal a person who worked in his house.  When Jesus said He would come the Centurion told Jesus, in my words: "I believe that You are so powerful that you can heal my servant from wherever you are."  He really believed that Jesus was able to heal his servant.  Then verse 10 says this: "Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, "Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel." (Matthew 8:10 NASB)

So, I believe Jesus looks on with marveling wonder when we trust Him.  I believe Jesus is amazed whenever you choose to trust Him with your self and your circumstances.  Jesus is amazed at what he created in you!

Thank you, again, for your question. It is a great encouragement to me.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ghosts of Previous Pleasure

One of my favorite pleasures of pipe smoking is the day after.  Early in my pipe smoking life, and for probably the first several years after, the day following a pipe was marked by a thoroughly charred, gritty mouth.  This was because I had not yet learned to appreciate my pipe.  Taking large, greedy puffs, I attacked my pipe smoking much like a lioness may attack some fleetfooted prey.  The result?  The smoke died and took my tongue with it.  Some years of wisdom changed the experience.  Now pipe smoking is left with few, if any undesirable mouth feelings (especially when dealing with well known pipes and tobaccos that have become old friends).  The enjoyment of the tobacco at its own pace, in gentle sips, has given me great reward for some years.  The mystery of the chemistry I cannot explain.  But one of my favorite experiences is the slight hint of aftertaste as much as 24 hours after. Even after several brushings and mouthwashings (two to be exact) and two good meals I can still detect a hint of everything I smoked the night before.  I love these surprises!

Last night I enjoyed three bowls of tobacco with a dear friend.  Today I was reminded of the pleasant and meaningful conversation we shared by tasting in turn the richness of the first bowl of Dunhill 965, the frank beautiful simplicity of a bowl of Velvet and the full sweetness of Black Gold Plus.  With the memory of those sweet tobaccos coming in turn the memory of the gentle and genuine conversation drifts to and fro like gentle puffs of smoke on the evening breeze.  What a blessed thing to enjoy a pipe and the company of another dear like-minded brother in Christ.  What a great blessing this!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Back to the Bowl

The time has come.  So may things have distracted me from my beloved tobaccos.  Cold weather has forbidden the long self-indulgent hours of pipe puffing.  As I continue to age I make stranger and stranger priority choices.  It simply isn't worth being physically uncomfortable to enjoy a pipe.  However, there are always a few bowls on shoveling days.  This, still, holds no candle to the evenings with a cup of tea and a pipe burning quietly away.  Our fourth child is finally on his feet, and this means that there are more opportunities for him to be a bit more independent and mommy is less tired so daddy gets increased opportunities to enjoy the blessed tobacco weed.

So much excitement for this smoking season.  I have three tins that I have stored up and am waiting to try, two of which are new!  I have a tin of Nightcap that is waiting to be opened and I cannot wait to return to that sweet latakian goodness again.  Additionally I have some Dunhill Standard Mixture which is a great excitement to me as I have loved 965 and London Mixture.  So much joy ahead!  Finally, I was given a tin of Rattray's Bagpiper's Dream, which I have decided to love, because I love bagpipes and am an amateur bagpiper.  And so it goes.  Let the smoking begin, and hopefully, the pipe blogging!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Burns Supper

The Burns Supper was simply lovely.Haggis gets a bad rap, but is actually quite tasty. Truly a delight. Good food, good company, good poetry and a pipe. Oh and good whiskey. Tough to beat that!