At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


This post was written after shabbes ("shabbat"; the sabbath), the events described herein occurred well before then.  For the benefit of my Jewish readers, I maintain the pretense that I do not set fire to or lift anything on the internet, from Friday dusk till Saturday same time.
Actually, that would be just BEFORE nightfall on Friday, and a short while after that the next day.

Many of my readers, or the fellow opinionists listed in the blogroll on the right-hand side, are sabbath-observant, whereas being myself of solid Protestant heritage (mostly of the severely disapproving kind, going back over a dozen generations), I cannot lay claim to any Judaic significance.
And I'm too much a skeptic to make a sudden leaps of faith.
In case you were wondering about my own "spirituality".

They abstain for a day, my gears remain in overdrive.
It seems an unfair advantage to take.

But I explain this primarily as a preamble to what I wish to mention, which is that Mordche's pipe has been reamed.

Mordche, as you will davka shper, is Jewish. A relaxed black hatter.
He brought in his pipe yesterday, which is when it was reamed and given a quick buff. No melacha on shabbes was involved, and everything took place well before shekiah. The stem is black again, the inside smooth.
This is the same pipe he bought back in October (on a Sunday), which was mentioned in this post: 'Bearded men emitting smells.

[To clarify, it was on the safe side of shekiah, whether or not he is makpid Rabbeinu Tam. There was plenty of time for him to daven mincha, so the whole machloikes isn't even relevant in this case.]

While I performed the necessary twiddling and fiddling, he told me that until the first cup of coffee of the day, plus a pill for his fibrillation, and the lighting of that first pipe, he feels ghastly.
But once these things have been accomplished (coffee, pill, pipe), life is beautiful and sunny again.

This is something I can easily understand. I too rely on that first cup of coffee for rays of sunlight in the morning. The first pipe waits, because my apartment mate is a non-smoker. And I do not have any medical conditions that need chemistry. But good lord that first cup of coffee, good lord.
Ya Ribon Olam, ravrevin ovedach ve takifin!

Coffee gets it all up and running.

Mordche's first pipe each day is Dunhill Nightcap. Which is a lovely sooty Latakia bomb, all creosote and terpeneols, with a little black Virginia to carry and extend the smoke-cured leaf, and some brown Virginias to support. But over fifty percent Latakia. Non-smoking vegetarian wheatgerm freaks and many women will likely run away screaming if you light it up. Which is a delicious concept, if you think about it. My pipe tobacco of choice will seldom do that.
Except for people who are "innocent".
And super "refined".

He says there is nothing nicer than sitting indoors, near the window, smoking a bowlful from the dark side of Asia Minor while listening to the rain outside. Given that he's a very old man now, he's had an entire lifetime of enjoying that; it's lovely that he still does so, and has relatives who will tolerate it.

This is the second time he's been by since October. He now has enough Nightcap and Arango's Balkan Supreme to last until January.
It's going to be a very wet month.


Maybe I will switch back to the Balkan blends myself for a while, as rain and Latakia are indeed a wonderful combination, one rich with evocative associations and pleasurable memories.

[Balkan blends: a misnomer, as these are also called English mixtures, which is also not strictly correct. The proper term is 'Oriental mixture'. English mixtures in American parlance are Orientals with Latakia forward, Balkans are English mixtures with a very noticeable Turkish element. The British, bless their hearts, will sometimes call something 'Balkan' when it has no Turkish at all, but does have a crapload of Latakia. Most English pipe smokers in this day and age smoke perfectly horrid aromatics. Unless they stil swear by St. Bruno and Gold Block.]

In Valkenswaard the day would be dark, and lights would be on well before nightfall during downpours. The Eindhovensche Weg outside the club would glisten wetly in the semi-dusk, reflections from the wet pavement augmenting whatever thin light came through the clouds. Nobody was at Parsifal at that hour, I had the space all to myself. Big pot of tea on the table, newspapers and schoolbooks, a full tin of tobacco and a selection of pipes to smoke. Ah, fragrant heaven!

I was the only one of the lads that enjoyed Balkan style mixtures. The other pipesmokers indulged in various brands of ribbon-cut Maryland ("Bay tobaccos'), or mild Dutch Cavendishes. One or two loved Virginia flakes. They might be around in early evening, and a fresh pot of coffee would be brewed at that time.

There rich stink of the Balkans is infinitely comforting and home-like.

Dunhill 965, Dunhill Nightcap, Dunhill Standard Mixture, Dunhill London Mixture, Balkan Sobranie, Rattray's Highland Targe, Rattray's Black Mallory, Rattray's Red Rapparee, Rattray's Accountants' Mixture, et autres.

[These are all between thirty and fifty percent Latakia. At the low end, it adds depth and richness, at the high end it dominates and permeates. Turkish is anywhere between fifteen and twenty five percent, from a team-player to a grassy resinous sultry whoomp. The rest is Virginia: the more Latakia and Turkish there is, the less complex the blend of flue-cured leaves underlying it, and the more important it is to have a strong-minded Virginia that can support the stinky profundity. At fifty percent plus Latakia, perhaps a medium brown flake, and a streak of black ribbon only. Which in any case shades it towards a Scottish mixture.]

Forests and autumn glades, meadows wet with descending evening mist. Bogs, fens, moorlands, country lanes deep in leaves, tall trees shielding the solitary wanderer from the winds, the Dommel river winding it's way past the old mill toward the village a few miles distant, grey twilights, sheltered farms, and dark copses of trees along the way.

One of these days, when I am home and it is raining cats and dogs, I will open a tin of either Dunhill or Greg Pease, load up a big bowl, and light up. And life will be sunny again.

Boruch Hashem.


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