Daily Archives: July 8, 2019

Pipe Meditation

Blog by Norman Skiba

As someone with a long history of Zen meditation practice in my younger days called zazen, there is also a moving/walking/working meditation called kinhin.  I find myself doing kinhin autonomically while working in my garden.  Whether picking weeds, hoeing, or planting.  Call it ‘In The Zone!’  It appears to be a non-focused ‘focused’ experience for me at times; even though it probably should be a focused dynamic.  When you have a large bed of serious weeds it is daunting; but you put your head down and you start at the beginning and somehow work your way to the end.  Your back and hands suffer tremendously – yet you get it done.  You cannot think – Oh my God, what a nightmare – it is a nightmare, but you tune it out and you focus on the here and now and it all works out.  Your Mind tends to ramble on into many thoughts and for me that is good since it is not after the formal Zazen focused mind thing I am after, rather than trying to do a tough job and not being worried about the actual hassle of the task.  I get the same thing driving the garden tractor cutting grass or driving my farm tractor moving chips and firewood etc.  Though with the farm tractor you have to be a bit more diligent as such.  This non-focused focused meditation is another type of meditation and it can get creative and also very deep in pondering many different things in your life and also in your head.

Well similar processes go on while I smoke my pipe – usually in the early A.M. with a pot of good coffee!  It gives me some time to be peaceful, listening and watching the birds, listening to other ambient sounds, and to enjoy a pipe and think of things I need to do for the day, and also just random thoughts that appear.  Once you light the pipe and start to enjoy the pipe and the tobacco, your mind seems to open up to a myriad of thoughts and observations.  Nothing else seems to matter in the moment.  Very early in the morning, most people are not even awake and this is my time.  I do feel guilty not getting a jump on stuff early in the morning with so much to do here on the small homestead; yet the idea of some peaceful time to enjoy a bowl or two seems like a worthy act and a nice way to get the day started.  More guilty when it gets unbearably hot – one needs to get stuff going early on before the old body poops out and the heat wastes you and the mind away.  Winter does get cold in the shed so it can be a bit trying, but it is nice to enjoy a bowl with coffee and get back in to throw more wood in the woodstove and warm up a bit before going back out to get work done.  In my old age guilt seems to way heavy – just too much to do with one person (and my best friend, my dog).  Heh! Heh!

In another sense – after 50 years, I am starting to learn to be a more calm puffer and trying to not rush through bowls. I have always been a faster smoker, but I have finally begun to learn about the ‘Art of Pipesmoking’.  (Can I help I am a slow learner…)  Many thoughts about this ‘Art’ too, also come into being while smoking and actually is the stimulus for the few short little articles I have written which Steve has posted here on his Reborn Pipes site.  I am not a writer and do not pretend to be.  These articles or little ditties as Frank Zappa would say are from my ruminations while smoking my pipes.  They are a result of the various meditations that occur in my head/Being.  Probably 99% of the time I smoke alone in these 50 years.  So it is not a social ‘thing’, rather than a personal thing.  In the past with 2 huge pipe collections I find I probably got caught up into the acquisition of pipes – and that ‘keeping up with the Jones’ mentality was unsettling , uneconomical in my situation, and a distraction of the actual enjoyment of pipesmoking.  I also have found that the various forums online are also a drag to my economic state, and also sidetrack one from the actual pipesmoking dynamic.  The various people and their trips and their egos and psychological agendas were a letdown.  Sorry for my critique and honest thought. Staying away from such environments also gives me more time to smoke another bowl or two and to get my work done.  As I said to Steve a while back – I smoked alone before there was an internet and there is no need for me to have to be a part of some smoking group to be able to enjoy my pipes and tobacco.  Lastly, I also have totally downsized my extensive collection to 5 and may get a 6th; but that is all I need.  Each one is unique and special and each one smokes wonderfully, with a new meer from Steve blowing all others out of the water.  I really can enjoy the extra time per pipe and I also can only work on decently coloring so many meers in the little time I have left on Mother Earth.  In addition the limited supply of tobacco is an issue and having more pipes and no tobacco seems a bit like ‘peeing in the wind’ as the expression goes.  So I enjoy the pipes and tobacco and the special time I have in peace smelling the Latakia, admiring the pipes – both briar shapes and grains and meer carvings – and see what evolves in my head in the form of various thoughts, observations, and ideas, letting my Mind wander on the Journey into Bliss!

Rejuvenating an Oval, Long Shank Apple

Blog by Steve Laug

This is the next of the blogs I am writing about the pipes that I worked on with Jeff on a recent visit to Idaho for my Father’s 91st birthday. This was a pipe that came from one of the pipe lots Jeff picked up on his travels. It was barely smoked and not even broken in. It was stamped Made In London England on the underside of the shank. The briar is quite nice with a mix of grain around the sides and shank. There were quite a few fills in the briar that stood out against the dry briar. The rounded crown of the rim top is in perfect condition and there is no damage to the inner or outer edges of the bowl. The bowl itself was lightly smoked and very clean. The finish was dirty and somewhat lifeless. There were dent marks mid bowl on the left side and nicks in the briar on the right. The black vulcanite stem had no tooth marks or chatter on either the top side of the underside. I took the following photos to show what pipe looked like before I started. It is a very striking long shank apple that combines some of the qualities of a Canadian and an Apple together. I took some close up photos of the bowl top and the stem combination. The rim top is perfect and smooth – a little dusty but otherwise clean. The stem is flawless with no bite marks or tooth chatter.The stamping on the underside of the shank is clear and readable. It reads Made In London over England.I received a package with some more Restoration Balm from Mark Hoover while I was in Idaho. He included a sample of a new product that he was experimenting with called Briar Cleaner. It is to be used prior to scrubbing (possibly instead of scrubbing) and to be followed up with the Balm. I decided to give it a try on the pipes I was working on with Jeff. I rubbed the Briar Cleaner into the bowl and shank with my finger tips and scrubbed it off with a cotton pad. It left behind some grit that I rinsed off with some warm water. I worked well to lift the dirt and grime from the grain. I am still not sure if it a necessary extra step for me or not but I am working with it on the next few pipes. The photos below show the pipe after cleaning with the product. After cleaning the briar with Mark’s new product I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads. I had ordered several sets of them before I left Canada and had them shipped to Idaho to arrive while I was there. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I rubbed Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar and worked it in with my fingertips. I let the bowl sit while the Balm did its work on the briar. Once it had been sitting for a few moments I buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. The photos show the bowl after the Balm had worked. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I polished it with 1500-12000 micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad using a small bit of Balm. I finished the polishing with Before & After Fine Polish and wiped it down again with some balm. I finished the pipe by buffing it with a microfiber cloth to raise a shine in the briar. The briar came alive with the buffing and the grain just popped. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a chunky pipe measuring 6 inches in length, 1 3/4 inches in height. The outside diameter of the bowl is 1 1/2 inches and a chamber diameter of ¾ of an inch. The briar shows some cross grain, birdseye and flame grain around the bowl. It is a beautiful, long shank Apple with an oval stem. It will be a fun pipe to break in and enjoy. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store shortly. Thanks for reading the blog. Keep an eye open for the next few blogs that follow showing the other pipes that I worked on while I was in Idaho. Enjoy.