Thursday, November 19, 2020


Advice I've often given: smoke gently, on the cusp of going out. The tobacco will be better if not hot-boxed, and your pipe will last longer. Rest the pipe after use, and keep it clean. Above all, avoid all flavoured mixtures, as they smoke hot and wet; and nobody really wants to reek like granddad and the pockets of moist air in his clothes as he sits by the stove drying out after tromping through the bog.

Now, if granddad habitually smoked solid Virginia flakes, or Balkan blends from reputable manufacturers, and avoided getting his clothes soggy, perhaps yes. He'll smell like strong tea and Scots whisky. Perhaps with a hint of lavender from his sock drawer.
Satu paip baharu-dipulihkan. Menggunakannya kebanyakan untuk Solani 633.

Currently experimenting with the good sludge. That being pipe carbon harvested during reaming a caked-up briar, finely ground, mixed with alcohol and a miniscule amount of sugar, to be used for augmenting cake, or repairing fisures in the layers inside of used pipes. The sugar acts as both stabiliser and adhesive, but one should not use too much when putting up a new batch of sludge; while sugar easily reduces to pure carbon if burnt, one does not want bubbly caramel inside the pipe. Apply a thin film over the risky spot, let it dry for an hour or two, then dust the inside of the bowl with tobacco powder, and let the pipe sit for a day or two before smoking a half bowl to final-cure the wall. Repeat once or twice if absolutely necessary.

Many pipe restorers have little jars of ashes and scraped carbon in their homes, labelled as to fineness, composition, provenance. Anything that isn't hard science is usually neurosis.

From a letter to a friend in Boston:
All in all I'm doing well. Maintaining my sanity by drawing pipes and Chinatown (see photo albums in Facebook), the apartment mate is keeping sane by channelling the stuffed turkey vulture and the little she-sheep (who is fiercely keeping the others in line), and our landlady downstairs is obsessing over new sources of buttery pastries.
Tobacconists are also doing rather well, because if you can't go anywhere to eat or drink, you can still head to the compost heap at the end of the garden, light up, and thus achieve peace and quiet away from the family. So I expect that some people will invest in warm outdoor clothing a lot this year.

My uncle and aunt in Canada survived a bout of covid earlier this year, and my aunt is now suffering from cabin fever because there's nothing to do, and nowhere to go. Both of them are deep into their nineties, by the way, and full of piss and vinegar.

The friend to whom the letter was sent lives on the top floor of a building which I fondly imagine looks like the mansion in the Adams Family illustrations, with I believe felines, and a lovely pipe collection. The weather in Boston is probably miserable. During the first winter he was there the roof gave way, and he shivered in the frigid wintry blasts, putting up with the harsh conditions because he needed a space to smoke his pipe and work in peace, far away from the howling non-smokers baying for his blood. It is currently forty degrees Fahrenheit there now.

It's eleven degrees in Calgary.

In solidarity with friends and relatives in beastly parts of the world, I shall shortly have a cup of tea, so comforting in miserable weather, then head out for another pipefull. In lieu of a compost heap or its immediate vicinity, it will be the public street. Which also smells. The tobacco will hide that somewhat. The upper elevations of Nob Hill aren't quite as bad anyway.

I'm thinking Doblone D'Oro. Rather like the old Three Nuns.
Not at all like antique codgers with soggy clothes.
Though equally old-fashioned.


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