Thursday, September 13, 2007

Last Smoke of the Day Thoughts and Musings

Today was a busy but decent day. The weather was sunny and clear, the temperature varied between 72-76F with very little humidity. I spent a couple of hours sitting on my deck with Valentino, my nine year-old German Shepherd Dog. In between watching the cars pass by and the occasional neighbor walking a dog, Valentino enjoyed the time by napping. I, on the other hand, was fielding some phone calls and e-mail conversations on my Blackberry while gently sipping on some Peretti's "Park Square" in a small Stanwell straight grain. My oldest daughter was home from school today so she was running around the yard trying to catch bugs with a net.

I was in the middle of typing an e-mail when suddenly Valentino started barking at something across the road. I looked up and saw a man walking out of the woods! He put some branches down then started back towards the woods when I noticed something strange around his face. I looked closer and saw that in his mouth he held a half-bent Peterson System pipe! He went into a nearby house that had recently been sold to some new people so I am assumming that he might be a new neighbor. This is incredibly cool since he would make the third pipe-smoking neighbor of mine. If you went down the line of houses on my street you would find five cigar smokers, three pipe smokers and myself. I made a mental note, and a Blackberry note, to myself to meet the new neighbors and talk pipes. I just hope this one is actually knowledgeable about them instead of the "No-frills aromatic in a Grabow/cob/basket pipe" like the other two guys on the street.

My thoughts of having another piper to chat in-person with were interrupted by my son's pre-school calling to tell me that he woke up from his nap with a high fever. I packed up and took him to the doctor's office. The diagnosis was a simple viral bug he must have picked up at school. You would think that having a fever would slow an almost-five year-old boy down but not my kid! Despite a temperature of 101.8F he was still a spinning blur like that of the old "Tazmainian Devil" cartoon character.

So now the house is quiet, the brats...err...children are all in bed and I am sitting here enjoying some Peretti's "Omega" blend in a Nording Signature freehand. I made some tea I got from Singapore that is extremely dark and bitter. I enjoy a good tea with my last pipe of the day because it really slows things down nicely. I use an old three-minute sand timer for steeping the tea at which time I gently fill the pipe. If everything is done properly I will be taking the final sip immediately after the final puff of the bowl. It's just a little ritual and method I like to employ on occasion. Valentino is sleeping again only now it is in front of the children's bedrooms. My three cats are all curled up and napping....which is what they do for 22 hours every day.

I hope you enjoyed reading this bit of my evening as much as I am enjoying living it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Old-School American Blends

This is a good time to be a pipe smoker. There are myriads of blends available in all sorts of forms and configurations. English blends with top quality leaf abound with premium burleys in various forms. We have matured virginias, virginia flakes, virginia plugs, stoved virginias, red virginia, lemon virginia, black virginia, brown virginia...there's "old belt", "middle belt" (championship belt?). We have a multitude of virginia and perique blends that are commonly referred to as "VApers". Aromatic blends are rampant with every flavor that one can think of. Any of these types of tobaccos can come in various cuts...plug, cake, crumble cake, ribbon, shag, slice or flake...spun-cut, loose-cut, twist, rope and navy-cut (sound like a song yet?).

Many years ago, pipe tobaccos were mostly burley-based and not topped with a lot of fancy syrups and perfumes. They were the staples of the American Pipe Smoker in a time when a guy could go to work in the morning, smoke all day in the office and come home to a happy family and a hot meal. After dinner the family would gather in front of the television set and enjoy some good wholesome American entertainment. The sounds of the old classic shows and the smell of Dad's pipe smoke are still cherished memories for many folks to this day.

In today's social climate of "political correctness", those happy carefree times are long gone but certainly not forgotten. While we are no longer allowed to think about wives taking care of the home and children, or smoking at work, or Mom cooking real food, we can take great comfort in knowing that there are still some blends that are reminicent to that golden age of the pipe.

For the past year or so I've heard many pipe smokers discuss blends from a shop in Boston called "Peretti's" and how wonderful their tobaccos are. Foolishly assumming that these were probably just re-labelled Lane blends, I dismissed any thoughts of trying any of them. Recently a fellow pipe smoker, whom I have a great respect for, sent me a sample of "Park Square" from Peretti's. This is in no way anything close to Lane tobacco...this is some real "old-school" American tobacco! After cursing myself for not having tried this before, I started to panic in fear that this blend might end up discontinued like many of the other great classics. Upon my initial order I received a sample of a fine English blend called "Omega" and, once again, I was overwhelmed at how wonderful this stuff is!

I am enjoying these treasures from Peretti's immensely and with each bowl I am trasnported back in time fifty years...when a "tv" meant "television" and not "transvestite"....when "PC" meant "Pepsi Cola" and "Perry Como"...when food was cooked at home and had fat, grease, salt and sugar without the shame, guilt and warnings of impending death with each bite taken.

This is a good time to be a pipe smoker.