In Memoriam, 1996-2010

6th April, 2010: Posted by glpease in General News

He came to me 14 years ago, a young dog; a furry, frenetic, non-stop, spinning ball of perpetual motion. At the shelter, they’d called him Rocky. It didn’t fit. Taz fit. He drove me nuts. He drove Pasha and Kismet, my other two dogs at the time, nuts. Anything that looked even vaguely alive was something to spring upon, a trait particularly annoying to the gophers that poked their unknowing heads from the security of their holes, only to find a bounding wolf, all four paws high in the air, descending upon them. Taz never got more than a snout full of dirt, but he never tired of the sport.

For the first few days that he lived with me, I was almost convinced that his energy was more than I, or the other dogs could live with. But, his boundless enthusiasm and constantly wagging tail won me over. And, his snuggles. And his intelligence. He was one of the special ones, and I knew he’d settle in, or I’d just get used to him, or both. He wasn’t always easy to live with, but neither am I; we both had things to learn. Read more…»

Not-Contest - Update

2nd April, 2010: Posted by glpease in General News

It’s been a few days since the not-contest closed, and I’ll have news soon. I apologize for the delay, but something has come up that has required my attention. For now, know that a decision has been made, and the results will be announced within the next few days.

Resolutions

20th January, 2009: Posted by glpease in General News

I just finished an article for the Chronicles, and realized, in one of those hopelessy embarrassing moment, just how lazy I’ve been in not writing. I’ve got dozens of articles started, but before today, It’s been nearly seven months since I finished anything! I’ll be sure to flog myself mercilessly with the cat-o-nine-tails later today, but probably not until after supper; such things can ruin my appetite. I think I’ll have my evening pipe, first, as well. And, perhaps a scotch. Actually, I’m already feeling much better, thanks to my little act of confession, so I think I’ll just forgo the flogging. I will, however, promise to begin dusting off some of those half-finished articles, polish them up, and begin publishing them in the Chronicles. I’ll probably start some new ones, too.

I’ve been working on some interesting blend ideas, and am getting close to launching something that I think will be a lot of fun. I’ll share more about that a little later, maybe in the next News blurb. That is, if I don’t forget…

Happy New Year, 2009!

2nd January, 2009: Posted by glpease in General News

Wishing you all a wonderful new year, full of peace and joy and wonderful smokes. I’ve got a few interesting projects in the works, and hopefully will be able to make some announcements in the near future. It’s going to be an exciting year, I’m sure.

It’s been quite a challenging year, at times, but I’ve managed to keep things afloat, in no small part, thanks to your continued support and great kindness. There is nothing more satisfying, I think, than being able to create a product that brings pleasure to those who enjoy it. The kind words and wonderful reviews tell me that I’ve been doing the right thing. The two blends I introduced in 2008, Maltese Falcon and Key Largo, have been wonderfully received, and your reaction to them has inspired me towards new things. There are some experiments on the bench, and I have no idea, yet, what will come from my research, but I promise, it’ll be interesting!

Other projects, too, are beginning to solidify, and one of them doesn’t have much at all to do with pipes or tobacco, but it does have something very much to do with flavour and aroma. I expect to be able to say more about this within a month or so. Watch this space.

Too, I’m already working on the 2010 edition of “In Celebration of Briar.” For those who have bought the previous editions, I thank you. It’s really not economically sensible for me to do these. The hours involved versus the revenues generated aren’t even close to what I could get working at Starbucks, but it’s a labour of love, and I’ll keep them coming, as long as there are a few who enjoy them.

Hold on tight to your dreams, and may 2009 make them a reality.

New Blend in the Queue

15th April, 2008: Posted by glpease in General News, New Blends

I know. It’s been ages since a news item appeared. I’ve received reams of email asking, “What’s new? What’s coming? Are you dead?”

I’m happy to report that I am not dead, though I did have some version of influenza that rendered me a walking, coughing zombie for a week or so. I seem to have recovered fully, or at least am in a very profound state of delusion that allows me to believe that I have. But, since more people were interested in any new tobacco coming down the wire than in my health, or lack of it, I’ll fuel the fires of gossip with a little tidbit. Read more…»

New Pipe Repair Guy in Town

29th October, 2007: Posted by glpease in General News

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with George Dibos, who was putting the final touches on his new shop in Bowman, ND. He’d just gotten all his machinery set up, and was excitedly doing what he called the “shake down cruise,” ensuring everything worked as expected. George might be called a little obsessive about his work, and it was important to him that all the details were handled before hanging his shingle. He sent me some detailed photos of things he’d just finished, and to say I was impressed by what I saw would be an understatement.

More conversations followed, and we talked about logos, websites, stuff like that. I offered some ideas, and ultimately ended up putting it all together for him. He’s doing the usual stuff - stem and tenon replacements, ream-and-clean service, shank banding, &c - and a few more unusual services, like his “Rejuvenation Package.” He’s also making “smoking stems” for people who want to preserve the original stems from their collectible pieces, and doing airway modifications. Reports from those who have used his services are overwhelmingly positive. Check out Precision Smoking Pipe Repair & Rejuvenation. He’s a relentless perfectionist, and, at least for the time being, you won’t have to wait months to get your pipes back.

Nessun Dorma - R. I. P. Luciano Pavarotti

5th September, 2007: Posted by glpease in General News

The nightingale will not sing; the world has lost one of the greatest operatic tenors that has ever lived. Luciano Pavarotti is dead today, at the age of 71.

I don’t remember the first time I heard him sing. I was young, and not a fan of opera, but knew there was something special there, and my mum adored him. His powerful voice, masterfully spanning the octaves, was enflamed by an obvious passion - for the music, for the art, for life. He had a boyishly enthusiastic presence coupled with charisma to spare, and with his voice he could reach out, take your breath away, and not give it back until he was done. It was his fire that got me paying attention to opera, and I’ll be forever grateful for that.

This particular video of Nessun Dorma, from Puccini’s Turendot, is the finest performance of the aria I’ve ever heard. The final phrases give me goose flesh every time I hear them, and bring tears to my eyes. The title translates roughly to, “Let no one sleep.” Tonight, let no one sleep but the nightingale. Sleep well, Maestro, and if you wouldn’t mind, sing one for my mum.

R. I. P. Alfred Peet

1st September, 2007: Posted by glpease in General News

Mr. Alfred Peet, who founded Peet’s Coffee in 1966, bringing his beautiful, deep roasted coffees to Berkeley, has left us at the age of 87.

I will never forget the Saturdays, it started when I was about eight, when my mother and I would go to Peet’s original Vine Street shop for the weekly coffee. I was always fascinated by the smells, the machinery, the culture. Those early experience of Peet’s would influence my life in ways I wouldn’t realize until much later.

Grinding the beans was always a family affair, and, of course, we’d engage unsuspecting dinner guests in the ritual. The old, hand-cranked grinder would be passed round the table, and all would take their turn, sharing in the process. My father would prepare the Chemex, folding the filter and measuring the coffee, while mom readied the water. The art of coffee at our house was a performance, and everyone participated.

When I was at last out on my own, I took many of the rituals of my childhood with me, and haven’t forgotten them. The old hand-crank has been replaced with modern electric convenience, and a Melior has taken the place of the old Chemex (though I still have it), but Peet’s beans have always been one thread of continuity that ties present with past.

I owe my love of coffee to my parents, to the almost religious observance of the bean I had cultivated as a child, and in no small way, to Mr. Peet, and his dedication to his art and craft.

Brew on, Mr. Peet. You will not be forgotten. If there is a heaven, there will now be good coffee there.

Calendars in Chicago, and a New Website

17th April, 2007: Posted by glpease in General News, Pipe & Tobacco News, Product News

Chicago is coming quickly upon us, and I’m ready. It’s always one of those great pipe events that I look forward to for months, then scramble about preparing for at the last minute. This year is different. I’ve got one small thing to finish before the show, and I’ll be ready. I’ll be bringing copies of next year’s “In Celebration of Briar” calendar for people to see. I think it’s even nicer than the 2007 edition, and I’m excited to share these photographs with my fellow enthusiast of the briar. Read more…»

Happy New Year, 2007!

2nd January, 2007: Posted by glpease in General News

Happy New Year! I’m thrilled to announce that one of my blends, well known to many of you, Haddo’s Delight, has inpsired not just praise, poetry, the occasional haiku, but also genuine music. Chris Carlisle, Dulcimer stylist extraordinaire, has composed and recorded this tune as the second track on his upcoming CD release, Appalachian Autumn. You can see all of Chris’s CD’s here, or have a listen to Haddo’s Delight. It’s quite an honor to me to have one of my blends celebrated in this way by a man of Chris’s talent. Thank you, Chris! Read more…»